ICC NOTE: The Sisters of the Holy Cross Lovers have been serving and evangelizing Vietnamese communities for 176 years. Their convent has been blessed to serve three primary schools and serve 63 different communities in Saigon and various other diocese in the communist country. Recently the convent and its 593 nuns have been placed in a precarious situation as the Vietnamese authorities are making them a target. Last October, the Vietnamese authorities attempted to demolish one of their schools and claim the coveted land where it stood. Thankfully they were able to thwart the government’s effort, but the threat of government takeover still remains.
1/20/2016 Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Card Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich (Germany) and president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, has called on Vietnam’s Catholics to help the Sisters of the Holy Cross Lovers in Thủ Thiêm who have become the target of Vietnamese authorities.
“I know you are going through a lot of difficulties,” he told the nuns. “There are reasonable grounds for concern,” but “no political organisation or economic group can harm religious freedom.” For this reason, “I call on the entire Catholic community of Vietnam to help the nuns,” who “are not alone, for we stand by their side.”
The cardinal, who ended his official visit to Vietnam on Sunday, stopped in Ho Chi Minh City where he visited the headquarters of Caritas Vietnam. Last Saturday, he visited the headquarters at the centre of the dispute, the convent of the Lovers of the Holy Cross in Thủ Thiêm.
Last October, the sisters were able to block the government, which sought to demolish the school they run. This was a small victory against the onslaught against religious congregations, but one that has not stopped the authorities from coveting their properties.
Speaking about the controversy involving the nuns, the German cardinal mentioned talks he had with bishops, priests, lay people as well as government officials during his visit.
He noted the work by Catholics in favour of the poor, the sick, children, and the marginalised based on the social doctrine of the Church. “This,” he explained, “does not contradict the principles of communist ideology” and its concern for the downtrodden.
“The goal,” Card Marx said, “is look to what is good for human beings”. Although there are no immediate solutions” to attacks against the nuns in Thủ Thiêm, the German Church will always stand with its Vietnamese sisters “in defence of religious freedom.”
The Lovers of the Holy Cross in Thủ Thiêm have been present in Vietnam, working with the poor, for 176 years. In the recent past, they have become the target of so-called “red capitalists” who want their land.
The congregation has 593 nuns scattered in 63 communities in Saigon and the dioceses of Xuan Loc, Ba Ria, Phu Cường, Đà Lat, Kon Tum, Mỹ Tho, Long Xuyên and Lang Son.
Sister Mary Le Thi Thao, provincial superior of the Congregation, told AsiaNews, that the goal “is not just protect three primary schools, but also to protect the convent.”
Noting the sacrifices the sisters made in the past, she reiterated that their goal is to protect the “congregation’s development” against baseless attacks from the authorities.
In view of the situation, she urges the faithful to pray for them, as well as the universal Church and human rights organisations to help them.