Senators Rally for Jailed Priest

Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly
Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly (photo:

Thirty-seven U.S. senators have sent a letter to Vietnam’s president appealing for the release of Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, who is serving a 13-year jail term in Vietnam.

According to Associated Press:

In a letter sent through the Vietnamese Embassy, the senators said the Rev. Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly had no lawyers during his four-hour trial and was silenced repeatedly by a security guard who put his hand over the priest’s mouth, then removed him from the courtroom.

The letter also requested information about the 63-year-old Ly’s health and welfare.

Signers included the Senate’s assistant majority leader, Democrat Richard Durbin of Illinois, and his counterpart for the Republicans, Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Religious repression of the Catholic Church in Vietnam undoubtedly will be one of the priority issues facing the new Catholic chairman of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom.

Reported CNS yesterday:

A Catholic commissioner on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom has been elected its chairman.

Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies and president of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast board of directors, began a one-year term as chairman July 1. He replaced Felice Gaer, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights.

The U.S. commission is an independent, bipartisan government agency charged with reviewing violations of religious freedom throughout the world and making appropriate policy recommendations to the president, secretary of state and Congress.

Leo was appointed to the commission in 2007 by President George W. Bush. As a commissioner, he has traveled to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Sudan and Vietnam to evaluate violations of religious freedom in those countries.

“I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to ensure that this basic human right is recognized as an essential and fully integrated component of any successful U.S. foreign, economic or national security policy strategy,” Leo said.

Leo also serves on the board of Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Fla., and is a member of the Knights of Malta, a Catholic religious and chivalric order that emphasizes medical and relief work.