Catholics Multiply in Vietnam
THE UNIVERSE, Nov. 18 — The easing of restrictions on the freedom of religion in Vietnam is
being credited with a surge in the number of the country’s Catholics, according
to the British Catholic newspaper.
A series of new laws enacted over
the past two years in Vietnam has meant that restrictions on the training of
Catholic priests have now been eased, which has led to an increase in both the
number of priests in Vietnam and numbers of people attending Mass. The moves
have also been recognized by the United States
government, who last month announced that it would be removing Vietnam from
its list of countries of particular concern list, which listed the countries with
the poorest record on religious freedom.
U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for
International Religious Freedom John Hanford said, “When we designated Vietnam a
[country of particular concern], only three Christian groups were able to
practice in the country legally and then with some strict limitations.
Catholics were practicing but with an aging clergy, and they were in dire need
of the freedom to train and ordain new priests to serve their congregations.
He added, “As one example of
progress, in November of last year, 57 new priests were ordained in Hanoi and have since been
posted to minister to the needs of Church members.”
Hindu Extremists Assault
Catholic Women Religious
SPERO NEWS, Nov. 20 — The Church condemned
an attack in India
against members of a Catholic women’s religious order and the desecration of a
Catholic church by Hindu extremists, reported Spero
Archbishop Bernard Moras of Belgaum, India,
said the recent incidents are “new signs of anti-Christian hatred that must be
stopped.” On Nov. 19, a group of Hindu fundamentalists allegedly attacked the
Carmelite Seminary in Carmelaram, a suburb of Bangalore. After smashing
their way into the premises through a window, they reached a small grotto
dedicated to the veneration of the Virgin Mary. According to AsiaNews, they desecrated and then destroyed the statue of
Our Lady, eventually fleeing after a postulant sounded the alarm.
For the archbishop, the attack and
the desecration “are very serious deeds and show the hatred against our faith.
I have sought out state authorities, explaining to them that the spiral of
violence is getting worse and must be stopped.”
“Violence,” Archbishop Moras said, “is taking place in every corner of the state.
Attacking our images is a way of attacking us and our faith.”
Russian Orthodox Cleric Says
Catholics Are Allies
REUTERS, Nov. 20 — A
top Russian Orthodox cleric told Reuters that the Roman Catholic Church and the
Orthodox Church were allies in the face of hostile secularism.
the head of external relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, has met Pope
Benedict and is thought to be pushing for closer ties with the Catholic
The Russian Orthodox Church, which
split from Rome in the Great Schism of 1054, was
cool toward Pope John Paul II, a Pole who had campaigned against communism and
sought in vain to visit post-communist Russia. However, senior Vatican officials have said they are working towards an
eventual meeting between Pope Benedict and Patriarch Alexei II.
“In the Vatican,
and not only in the Vatican
but all over the world, Catholics understand that Orthodox are
their allies,” he said. “And Orthodox are more and
more coming to understand that Catholics are their allies in the face of
hostile and non-religious secularism.”