Twenty "Red Flag" militants broke into the parish. A parish priest: "We are gentle and simple people in faith. We do not even have voice in our daily lives. " Pham Van, a former prisoner in "re-education camps": "Protect the faithful of the parish and the diocese of Vinh."
Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Many Catholics fear violent retaliation against the community of Thọ Hòa, Dong Nai province (Southeast Vietnam), who defended their pastor from the aggression of some Communist militants last September 4. Episodes of violence and intimidation continue against the Vietnamese Catholic Church, committed to the promotion of social justice in the country. There are frequent attacks, verbal and physical, of plain clothes police or hooligans hired by local authorities to silence priests and faithful.
Men dressed in civilian clothes and armed with guns, sticks and pepper spray raided the parish of Thọ Hòa, in Xuan Loc district. About 20 "Red Flag" militants, a pro-government group, wanted to face the parish priest Fr. Nguyễn Như Tân (photo) for a post on Facebook where he hoped for a political reform in the country governed by the single Communist Party.
At the arrival of the group, the priest closed the gates of the church and played the bells to alert the parishioners and ask for help. The faithful detained 13 thugs, who declared themselves Catholics and claimed to be angry with Fr. Nguyễn Như Tân because he wanted to "overthrow the Communist Party and the Government of Vietnam," using denigrating words against the founder of the Ho Chi Minh party.
Pham Van, a Catholic resident in France and former prisoner of "rehabilitation camps," states: "Although parishioners have responded to the aggression in a friendly and respectful manner, in the coming days they will face dangers and difficulties. We need to think about a plan to protect them and their priest. The faithful have behaved with moderation in a very complex context. They recognize the justice and the law of Vietnam, which is why they have the right to maintain order and protect the peace of the community and the parish. "
"We must take an interest in the events of September 4," says Paul Tho, parishioner of Thọ Hòa - As our shepherds, we are all kind and very simple people in the faith. We do not even have voice in our daily lives."
Some students in the province of Hà Tĩnh who study in Ho Chi Minh, state: "First, Catholics must protect parishioners. With them, we also share food and educational support for children who live in very difficult circumstances. "
Pham Van finally puts forward an appeal: "In the coming days, we Catholics, in Vietnam and abroad, we must express our communion to protect the faithful from the parish of Thọ Hòa and the diocese of Vinh. Of course, at this moment we also need the support of the Vietnamese Church. "
The priest had urged a political reform in the country. The thugs are local pro-government activists. The pastor will not file a complaint: it would be useless because the security forces and the aggressors are on the same side. District Police Vice-President congratulates his decision: it is a "complicated" case.