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06/19/2012 Vietnam (UCA News) – A diocesan official in Nghe An province has condemned local authorities for their part in what he says was the violent suppression of Catholics attending a service at a layperson’s home last week.

Several Catholics were injured during violent scenes in Chau Binh commune on June 11 after Quy Chau district officials and other villagers prevented priests from performing a blessing on a new house.

“The officials are responsible for violating religious freedom, injuring local Catholics and creating divisions in the local community. We strongly condemn their illegal actions,” said Father Peter Nguyen Van Huong, head of the Vinh Bishop’s House office.

In a June 16 open letter to officials of Nghe An province, Quy Chau district and Chau Binh commune, Father Huong demanded authorities deal with those responsible for the incident and to compensate those who were injured or had property damaged.

He said the trouble began when the officials and villagers burst in the house of Nguyen Van Vi, who had invited several priests and local Catholics to bless the new home he had built, and desecrated the altar.

The priests took off their vestments and asked the officials for a written statement about the incident but they refused. The priests then dismissed the gathering and left the house.

Soon after, three of the village head’s sons beat up five local Catholics, putting them in hospital, said Fr Huong, adding that local security officials had witnessed the beating but did not do anything to stop it.

He said there are 35 Catholic families in Chau Binh commune.

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