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More trouble for Vietnam's Redemptorists: monastery turned into state office
There are signs of serious troubles aiming directly at Redemptorists in Vietnam. Having their church in Saigon been raided, their provincial superior been investigated and threaten, now they have to face another outrageous harassment: one of their monasteries has just been decided unilaterally by the government to be converted into a state office.

In an urgent protest letter published on Dec. 20, Father Joseph Dinh Huu Thoai, chief of the secretariat of the local Redemptorist province, cried out that the Redemptorist monastery in Dalat city had just been ruled by the local government of Lam Dong to be converted into a regional biological research institute.

“People’s Committee of Lam Dong Province is unilaterally planning to build the Biological Research Institute of The Central Highlands on the land of the Redemptorist province without any discussions with us. It violates section 5 of article 25 in the current nation’s land law; and tramples our legitimate rights,” wrote the secretariat.

Dalat, a popular tourist destination where land prices have jumped sky-high during recent years, is the capital of Lam Dong Province. The city is located 1,500 m above sea level on the Langbiang Plateau in the southern parts of the Central Highlands.

The monastery has been seized by the communist government for decades, but as many Church properties in dispute with the government, it has been kept unchanged. The order to destroy it to build a state building is sudden. But the intrinsic reason for that decision is quite comprehensible.

Redemptorists are among those in Vietnam who actively campaign against Chinese-backed projects to mine bauxite in this back-boned region of the country. They have kept warning about potential catastrophes to the environment explaining that no bauxite plant in the world, even in modern countries, can guarantee the endurance of the red mud reservoir against acid erosion. Arguing that the underlying dangers may far outweigh the benefits, the critics have been calling for Vietnamese people to sign in a petition to the government, denouncing the plan to allow the China to mine in such environmentally strategically sensitive part of Vietnam.

More than 2000 intellectuals had signed the petition on bauxite mining projects, which was sent to the Party, the State and the Government in last October. It has been no secret that the Redemptorists are among those who have been victimized and severe punished by the government for their courageous actions. The steep price these brave priests have to pay now is watching their monastery converted to a state institute to study what they have warned about environmental effects of bauxite projects in the region.

"Around the world, people are celebrating the Christmas season, we here in Vietnam are still in the Good Friday, contemplating the Passion of Christ in the pains and sufferings of people from all walks of life including ourselves," sighed Fr. Joseph Nguyen in Hanoi.

Upon hearing a new campaign of harassment against the Redemptorists in Vietnam, Fr. Michael Brehl, the Superior General of the Order, on his letter published today Dec. 22, sent his support to "Fr. Vincent [Provincial Superior of Vietnam] and all confreres", expressing his closeness in prayer to his brothers in this time of difficulties. "I am writing to tell you that we are with you in prayer. As we draw closer to Christmas, know that you are very much in my Christmas novena," wrote the world-wide leader of the Redemptorists.

Joseph Dang
(VietCatholic News)

Posted on 26 Dec 2010

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