An official of the
people's committe tries to keep the Redemptorists occupied, while members of
party organizations attack the chapel of Saint Gerardo. Summoned by bells,
phone calls, and e-mails, hundreds of faithful come, and the attackers leave.
The operation raises troubling questions.Hanoi
Disturbing questions are
being raised by the attack carried out Saturday night by a group of communist
party activists on the chapel of St. Gerardo, on the property of the parish of
Thai Ha. Similar to the one carried out on September 21, against the same
target, it saw the participation of a delegate of the people's committee of
Quang Trung (the local administration), while police and security forces looked
on passively at the sacking of the chapel, which did not have serious
consequences only because of the immediate arrival of faithful from Thai Ha and
Fr. Joseph Nguyen Van That,
vice superior of the Redemptorist convent, who also takes care of the parish,
says that "At 10 pm local time, on Saturday night, a delegate of the
people's committee of Quang Trung precinct came to Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery
asking for an urgent meeting with Redemptorists, while hundreds of people
attacked our Saint Gerardo Chapel."
There were police officers,
members of a women's association, and young people of the party. They began
shouting, throwing stones at the church, trying to provoke the priests and
faithful present to a fight. Catholics were called to the scene by church
bells, but also by telephone calls and e-mails sent to the parishes of Hanoi. At 11 o'clock, a
fairly significant number of faithful were on the scene, and without responding
to the provocations, they tried to enter the chapel.
The officers, who did not
intervene to stop the attack, tried (in the photo) to stop the faithful from
entering the church. One parishioner says that at a certain point, a group that
was participating in the attack asked the police if they could set it on fire.
They were instructed to "wait for an order from higher ranking
At 11:30, the growing number
of faithful on the site forced the attackers to leave.
Eglises d’Asie reports that
inhabitants of the neighborhood say that beginning in the afternoon, while the
church was celebrating the feast of the Vietnamese martyrs, the young
communists had taken up position to prepare the operation. The same thing was
happening at the same time in security offices of the neighborhood.
A letter denouncing the
incident has been addressed by Fr. Matthew Vu Khoi Phung, the superior of the
monastery, to the people's committee of Hanoi
and to the police of Hanoi
and of the district of Dong Da.
Catholics are concerned over
the reasons for the attack, which came after the conclusion desired by the
authorities - meaning with rejection - of the request by the Redemptorists for
the restitution of the parish land. Some think it is retaliation - the land
that was given to a clothing company has been turned into a public park - and
are afraid of further aggression against the monastery, parish, and chapel.