Vietnamese Priest Banned from Attending Pope’s Mass in Japan

11/28/2019 Vietnam (International Christian Concern) – A Catholic priest was recently blocked by the Vietnamese government from travelling to Japan to attend a mass by Pope Francis. On November 21, the priest accused the government of targeting him because of his environmental activism.

Vietnam has a history with fearing organized religion, given its communist nature. Many Catholics in the country have been vocal in speaking out against social injustice and advocating for oppressed people. For this, the government targets them and makes their lives difficult.

Priest Nguyen Dinh Thuc was among those in central Vietnam who helped fishermen to file lawsuits and protest after a toxic chemical spill in 2016 resulted in large-scale fish kill and decimated livelihoods. He was barred from flying to Tokyo to attend a mass led by the Pope on November 20.

While 12 other priests and two parishioners he was travelling with were permitted to board the flight in Hanoi, he was stopped by the authorities.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), a letter signed by immigration authorities showed the priest was blocked for “the protection of national security and social order.”

Mr. Thuc from Nghe An province, who has not been allowed to travel overseas since 2017 – denied the allegation, blasting the authorities for “violating the right to movement, the basic rights of citizens and the rights of freedom of religion”.

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