Authorities in the Vietnamese capital have begun demolition work on the church and centuries old Carmelite monastery in Hanoi, a historic building in the centre of a long battle between the government and Church leaders over land ownership.
authority intends to erase all traces of the buildings - demolition
work began on the 3rd of January - and build in their place a five-story
However, Catholic sources in the Archdiocese speak of "secret projects"
that would affect the area, "very different" from the construction of a
hospital to serve the city.
The church and monastery are located on 72 Nguyễn Thái Học Street,
Hanoi, and are over a hundred years old.
In an attempt to stop this
latest attack on the Catholic community after the recent conviction of young activists,
the Archbishop, Peter Nguyen Van Nhon sent an urgent appeal to Prime
Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. This is the fifth petition addressed to the
heads of government, although to date they have failed to provide the
At the same time, the bishop has sent an appeal to the
authorities in the capital, even in this case, the "legitimate"
Catholics' request was deliberately "ignored".
According to the Hanoi authorities, the claims of Msgr. Nguyen Van
Nhon are unfounded because the possession of land is attributable to the
State. The curia apparently "entrusted the land" the city
administration, which then decided to donate the area to the Department
of Health for the building of Xanh-Pôn hospital.
In contrast, the
documents clearly show that the ownership of land - on which the
Carmelite monastery stands - has belonged to the Archdiocese of Hanoi
for over a hundred years. And the curia has "never" handed over or
entrusted to the use and possession of the area to the Hanoi
authorities: it was in fact a case of forced expropriation, perpetrated
with the use of force in violation of the law.
The archbishop of Hanoi sent letters to priests, religious and lay
people asking for their prayers for the Church, for justice and peace in
Vietnam, for full religious freedom in the country.
Speaking to AsiaNews,
Fr. Hung invites Vietnamese Catholics to "keep firm in spirit" and to
"protect the local churches." We can not ignore, says the priest, the
local Churches that are victims of "accidents, difficulty,
discrimination, where there is no respect for basic human rights and