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6/27/11 Vietnam (AsiaNews) – Fearing that their parish might be “abolished”, 150 families have appealed for help to their bishops and Catholics around the world.

Con Dau parish was established 135 years and is now part of Da Nang diocese. The issue at hand emerged at the beginning of last year when the authorities decided to seize homes and land, including the parish cemetery to build a luxury resort centre. Protests were repressed and incidents led to Catholics being convicted in phony trials.

In their letter to the Bishops’ Council, the Justice and Peace Committee and world Catholics, parishioners “express the pain that they are confronted with. We do not know whom to turn to for help. If the leaders of the Bishops’ Council do not intervene with local authorities, the parish will certainly be eliminated.”

“Land disputes are taking place in many places,” said Mgr Nguyn Van Nhon, chairman of the Vietnam Bishops’ Council. “To solve the problem, the government has to change the Land Law.”

“Legal controversies over homes and land represent 70 per cent of annual disputes,” said Mgr Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, chairman of Justice and Peace Committee. “The Church is not involved. Most people suing the government for their land are courageous mothers, some of whom had previously been praised by the revolutionary government.”

“Now many parishes are suffering, and have to endure injustice,” many Vietnamese Catholics said. “Confrontations and disputes all go back to the Land Law. Even the Church is subjected to its influence. Local authorities have different attitudes towards people. Thus parishes like Tam Toa, Thai Ha, Con Dau, or the Redemptorists suffered the consequences of conflicts and injustice.”

“The Justice and Peace Committee is small and its basic task is to spread the social teachings of the Church among the people,” Mgr Thai Hop said, “especially among Catholics, to raise awareness of their mission and role.”

“The task of the Church is not political,” he said in an address to parishioners.” If anyone wants to make a government fall and set up a new government, this is your business, not that of the Church.”

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