Vietnam's Catholics Come in From the Cold
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, Dec. 24 — The long-persecuted 8 million Catholics of Vietnam are getting a respite, according to Agence France-Presse.
The news agency noted that the appointment in September of Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), to the College of Cardinals was not met with the usual harshness by Vietnam's communist government but with congratulations from its foreign ministry, which called it “good news for Vietnamese Catholic followers.”
The country's deputy prime minister, Vu Khoan, on Dec. 23 met with Cardinal Pham Minh Man. The meeting was reported by Vietnam news this way: “Congratulating Man on his appointment, the deputy prime minister reaffirmed the Vietnam communist party and government's consistent policy of respecting religious freedom.”
While the policy has been far from consistent, it seems the Vietnamese government wishes to mend fences with the Church, Agence France-Presse suggested.
The news agency quoted a diplomat on the scene who said, “This meeting is highly significant. Things are getting much better. Now the next step is the establishment of diplomatic relations between Hanoi and the Vatican.”
French Muslim Girls Look to Catholic Schools
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dec. 18 — In an attempt to deal with the fallout of large-scale Islamic immigration into France, the anticlerical government of that country is likely to enact a law prohibiting students in public schools from wearing any religious insignia: Muslim heads carves, Jewish yarmulkes or visible crosses.
The Associated Press pointed to an ironic fallout of the decision: It could drive Muslim girls into private Catholic schools, where their religious freedom will be respected.
“It's a choice that risks being unavoidable in many cases,” said Fouad Alaoui of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France. “There will be either girls who don't accept expulsion and they will take off their scarves … or there will be those who don't take them off. I will ask them to join private Catholic schools.”
The Associated Press noted that in heavily Muslim areas of France, such as Marseilles, Catholic schools are already up to 70% Muslim.
Mexican Cardinal Cleared of Money-Laundering
VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS, Dec. 27 — It's official: There is no evidence to support the charges of money laundering that had been thrown at Cardinal Juan Sandoval of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Voice of America News reported that Mexico's deputy attorney general, Jose Vasconcelos, has dropped the inquiry after investigators came up empty.
The charges were made by a former attorney general, who the cardinal suggested was motivated by a desire to cover up the previous Mexican government's possible involvement in the 1993 murder of Cardinal Sandoval's predecessor, Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo.
Cardinal Posadas was gunned down during the daytime at a Guadalajara airport in a shootout the former government insisted was simply a crossfire between rival cocaine gangs.
But Cardinal Sandoval has persistently pressed for a new investigation by the government of President Vicente Fox, the first Mexican leader not to belong to the once-unchallenged Party of Institutionalized Revolution.
- January 4-10,2004