What happened to parishioners of Thai Ha is now repeating to nuns in Vinh Long who have their guts to ask for the requisition of their monastery: local government officials start to take revenge for their loss of economic benefits.
In an effort to defame Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, local officials of Vinh Long province have accused the nuns of opposing "the liberation of the country”. In particular, they vaguely charged the nuns of poisoning orphan children with anti-revolution sympathies. It is often a pretense for open persecutions.
In a letter, signed on Dec. 18, Bishop Thomas Nguyen Van Tan told priests, religious, and lay people of Vinh Long diocese that he had to raise his voice again, even "my voice today is just 'a voice in a desert’ (Mt 3:3) as the voice of the power seems to have prevailed over the voice of justice, of conscience, especially in an era where material things supersede morality, charity and justice.”
In particular, he condemned the government’s shameless ungratefulness towards charity services of Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul who have continuously served people in the provinces of Ben Tre, Tra Vinh and Vinh Long since 1871.
"It is so embittering for the sisters, for you, and for me, too,” Bishop Thomas Nguyen wrote. "How we can help not become bitter when running an orphanage is distorted into 'training a generation of unfortunate youth to be an anti-revolution force to oppose the liberation of the country’? How we can help not to feel painful to see the sisters being kicked out of their monastery empty-handed after 31 years serving the poor and the unfortunate?”
The bishop of Vinh Long, 160km South of Saigon, went on to express his sadness to "see the ruin of the monastery which our brothers and sisters had contributed countless efforts to build for more than a century.”
Vinh Long was hit hard during the Vietnam war. Catholics in the area, mostly poor peasants who suffered badly due to the insecure condition in the area, had struggled for decades to build the monastery not only to provide spiritual training for religious women but also to provide charity services. In particular, the Church had run an orphanage there during the war.
How painful Catholics in Vinh Long feel now "to see a place for worshipping God, for praying to Him, for spiritual training, and for providing charity services being converted into a place for entertaining,” Bishop Thomas lamented.
Realizing that the troubles of the diocese and of Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul have not come to an end yet, he earnestly asked "in the communion of the Catholic Church” for prayers for Vinh Long diocese and for "our brothers and sisters who have to face these difficulties.”
"As we celebrate this Christmas, let us earnestly implore our God and Savior grant unto the world His true peace, a peace in its fullness that is based on justice and morality,” he concluded.
The full text of his letter is available at
J.B. An Dang