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10/07/2022 Vietnam (International Christian Concern) – Father Anthony Padua Nguyen Huyen Duc passed away on October 4 in a German hospital. He was 50 years old and had been battling lung cancer since 2017. Doctors suspect Father Duc’s painful death could have been caused by poisoning.

Until he left for medical treatment in 2017, Father Duc was the head of the Thien An Monastery, a Benedictine monastery in central Vietnam. He was a vocal advocate for the Benedictines in a long-standing land dispute between the monastery and local authorities.

In a series of violent attacks, police in Thua Thein Hue province, where the monastery is, had damaged monastery facilities and desecrated a cross and a statue of Jesus that were located on land owned by the monastery since the 1940s.

The Thien An Monastery was founded in 1940 on 107 acres of land by French Benedictine monks. In 1940, the communist government allegedly borrowed 57 acres of the land and gave it to a foresting company. In 2000, the government confiscated nearly all the land and gave it to a tourism company, allowing the Benedictines just six acres.

Father Duc once said in a statement, “We wish to seek justice in a peaceful manner to protect the Church’s legal property until our last breath.”

In a letter sent to his fellow Benedictine monks before his death, Father Duc said that he had suffered excruciating pain and hair loss after having drunk coffee and tea offered to him by two visitors during the 2016 Lunar New Year festival at the monastery.

Father Duc tried to return to Vietnam once in 2019, but when he flew to Hanoi, he was detained by security officials and asked questions. He was told to leave the country for his own safety and to protect the monastery. He returned to Germany and remained there until he died.

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