Blowing Up the Cross in Vietnam

Communism’s Brutal Face Is Very Visible

Once again communism reared its ugly head dashing the false hopes of naïve optimists who keep clinging to the idea that communism is dead. Recent events in Vietnam reported in Catholic news media reveal that a brutal crackdown and campaign of violence and intimidation by hardliners inflicted scores of injuries among the Catholic Vietnamese faithful.

At the eye of the Red storm is rural Dong Chiem Parish where, in March 2009, parishioners erected a tall concrete cross on top of Nui Che Mountain which has served as the parish cemetery since 1945.

Communist Intolerance

The pious gesture did not sit well with local civil authorities who claim the hill in question as public property and deem the deed as illegal.

Last January 6, at three o’clock in the morning, hundreds of anti-riot gear-clad security forces meted out drastic measures by blowing up the crucifix with explosives.  The harsh band of policemen used tear gas, electric prods and stones to beat back the aggrieved faithful who showed up to pray on their knees and protect the parish property from desecration.  At least a dozen people suffered injuries, two seriously enough to be rushed to the hospital.

The same day, clergy, the faithful and sympathizers from neighboring parishes flocked to the now cordoned off Dong Chiem church to express support and solidarity with the local pastors and parishioners.  Security checkpoints around the building prevented anyone from entering the premises.

A Cascade Of Violence And Intimidation

This was only a prelude to more iron-fisted tactics.

A Redemptorist brother who came to lend support ended up viciously beaten while an accompanying layman luckily escaped with minor injuries; many more people were threatened and some were arrested. The faithful from nearby parishes who attempted to draw near the property were rudely driven away; priests from the Hanoi deanery were stopped from crossing the Xay river bridge some 500 yards from the church; a Catholic journalist was assaulted and left unconscious in the streets; the parish vicar was interrogated and authorities hurled vulgarities, insults, lies and threats against the parish priest through a loudspeaker. Prayer vigils organized in other places did not escape intimidation from local authorities.

Later, parishioners who planted several crosses on the hill after the January 6 cross explosion incident were “escorted” and “educated about their wrongful behavior” and were prevailed upon to remove them. Meanwhile, a campaign of discredit accused Church leaders as “instigators of riots.”

Strong Reaction from Catholic Hierarchy and Leaders

The Hanoi Archdiocese swiftly condemned the cross’ senseless destruction as sacrilegious. The ruthless treatment of innocent and unarmed parishioners was termed savage and inhumane. Likewise, the superior of the Redemptorists of Vietnam sent an urgent letter of protest to the authorities of Hanoi demanding investigation into the atrocities against innocent and unarmed civilians. Louisiana Vietnamese-American Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (LA-2) also issued a statement expressing consternation over the repressive and violent actions of the Vietnam government. Thousands of Vietnamese joined prayer vigils and Masses to pray for the besieged parish which also spurred international responses in the United States, Germany and Australia.

Damage Control

A senior official of Hanoi’s outlying district of My Duc put the blame on the parishioners for violating the land law. He made short shrift of the fact that the property in question has been in the hands of the local parish for over 100 years. The government-backed Vietnam News Agency launched its own face-saving propaganda campaign by asserting that the “Catholics have not suffered repression” and accused AsiaNews.it, Vatican Radio and Radio Maria of distorting their news reports and broadcasts.

Denial Of The Right To Private Property And Corruption

At the root of the dispute is the issue of land ownership. It is no secret that communists deny the right to private property and the Dong Chiem incident serves as a textbook case straight from the pages of the Communist Manifesto. Vietnamese communist authorities claim that “the land belongs to the people and the state manages it for the people.

More importantly, the Dong Chiem fiasco is by no means unique. Since 2007, Church properties have increasingly been targeted. Similar, though less severe, clashes occurred in Loan Ly, Thai Ha and Bau Sen parishes. These encounters ran along similar veins – the parishes defending their property rights against government claims.

Quite recently, even peasant-owned lands were not spared from these draconian measures – a fruit of the culture of corruption bred by communist materialist ideology. These confiscated properties were re-sold by the political class to the highest bidder in a get-rich-quick scheme.

This is no surprise as the communists have been seizing church property as well as other edifices and farmlands ever since they grabbed power in the former North Vietnam some fifty years ago. Ironically, these vanguard guardians of egalitarian principles look the other way with regards to nearby Huong Pagoda, a famous national tourist attraction located in the vicinity of Dong Chiem, where visitors remain unmolested and are welcomed by the same police force.

Our Lady of Fatima’s Prophecy

Our Lady of Fatima forewarned the world in 1917 when she said: “Russia…will spread her errors throughout the world promoting wars and persecution of the Church….” Such errors are quite evident in modern day Vietnam as the Dong Chiem incident aptly shows. Let us pray to Our Lady of Fatima and ask Her to grant the suffering Vietnamese faithful the fortitude and strength to face with indomitable courage the unjust persecutions unleashed against them by the Red menace. May they find comfort and consolation in Our Lady’s promise, “Finally, My Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

REFERENCES:

The above article was pieced together from the following news reports mainly from the AsiaNews.it website:
An Dang, J.B., “Explosive used to demolish crucifix in Hanoi Catholic cemetery”, 01/07/2010 at

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Explosive-used-to-demolish-crucifix-in-a-Hanoi-

Catholic-cemetery-17282.html,
Nguyen, Emily, “In Dong Chiem Catholics beaten, a journalist wounded and a priest threatened”, 01/12/2010 at
http://www.asianews.it/news-en/In-Dong-Chiem-Catholics-beaten,-a-journalist-wounded-and-a-priest-threatened-17324.html,
An Dang, J.B., “Dong Chiem is becoming a ‘Mount of Crosses’”, 01/14/2010 at
http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Dong-Chiem-is-becoming-a-Mount-of-Crosses-17344.html,

An Dang, J.B., “Brother viciously beaten in Dong Chiem, a parish under siege”, 01/21/2010 at
http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Brother-viciously-beaten-in-Dong-Chiem,-a-parish-under-siege-17410.html,
An Dang, J.B., “Redemptorists protest violence, while attacks on Hanoi churches feared”, 01/22/2010 at
http://www.asianews.it/view4print.php?l=en&art=17420,
“The Vietnam News Agency denies Dong Chiem repression and attacks AsiaNews”, 01/18/2010 at

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/The-Vietnam-News-Agency-denies-Dong-Chiem-repression-and-attacks-AsiaNews-17381.html,
An Dang, J.B., “More violence in Dong Chiem as police attack three Catholic students”, 02/02/2010 at
http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=17517&size.

The following are sources other than AsiaNews.it:
“Crucifix destroyed, Catholics injured in Vietnam”, ZENIT, 01/08/2010 at
http://www.zenit.org/article-27998?l=english,
“Archdiocese of Hanoi condemns savage beating of Redemptorist brother”, Catholic News Agency, 01/22/2010 at
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/archdiocese_of_hanoi_condemns_savage_beating_of_redemptorist_brother/,
“Vietnam police block access after church unrest”, Agence France Presse, 01/07/2010 at
http://blog.vietnam-aujourdhui.info/post/2010/01/09/Vietnam-police-block-access-after
-church-unrest,
“Redemptorist Superior General urges prayer for persecuted Vietnamese Catholics”, Catholic News Agency, 01/26/2010 at http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/redemptorist_superior_general_urges_prayer_for_
persecuted_vietnamese_catholics/,
“Vietnam: Diocese of Hanoi: destruction of the crucifix of Dong Chiem ‘true sacrilege’”, Spero News, 01/08/2010 at
http://www.speroforum.com/a/25222/Vietnam—Diocese-of-Hanoi-destruction-of-the-crucifix-of-Dong-Chiem-true-sacrilege,
“Vietnamese authorities deny cross crackdown”, Catholic News Asia, 01/15/2010 at
http://www.cathnewsasia.com/2010/01/15/vietnamese-authorities-deny-cross-crackdown/,
Del Vecchio, Rick, “Is repression on the rise in Vietnam?” Catholic San Francisco, 02/26/2010 at
http://www.sfarchdiocese.org/about-us/articles-resources/2010-articles/Is-repression-on-the-
rise-in-Vietnam-2031/,
“Cao Condemns Violent Acts from the Vietnam Government”, Ahn “Joseph” Cao website, 01/11/2010 at
http://josephcao.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=166710,
Gregg, Samuel, “Corruption, Communism and Catholicism in Vietnam”, 12/08/2009 at
http://www.viettan.org/.

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