Vietnam: Vigils and Vigilantes

Catholics pray at shrine outside Hanoi's former nunciature.
Catholics pray at shrine outside Hanoi's former nunciature. (photo: AFP)

Tensions between Vietnam’s Communist leaders and the country’s six-million-strong Catholic community are growing ever more strained.

The regime has engaged in a violent campaign of intimidation against the Church in recent weeks.

In one incident on Sept. 25, anti-Catholic vigilantes arrived in government-owned buses and attacked a peaceful gathering of Catholic demonstrators in Hanoi. 

Cause of the crackdown: Government anger over prayer vigils initiated last year by Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi to protest the government’s decision to convert Hanoi’s former apostolic nunciature into a public park.

Church authorities in Vietnam are seeking the return of lands confiscated decades ago by the Communist regime, such as the site of the nunciature.

Register correspondent Simon Roughneen spoke with several well-informed sources — including a priest in Hanoi at a parish where lands were confiscated — to get an up-to-the-date picture of what’s happening in Vietnam.

Look for his timely report in the Nov. 2 issue of the Register.

— Tom McFeely