President of Vietnamese bishops “optimistic” about the future, in spite of everything

President of Vietnamese bishops “optimistic” about the future, in spite of everything
President of Vietnamese bishops "optimistic" about the future, in spite of everything

Hue (AsiaNews / EdA) – Msgr. Joseph Nguyên Chi Linh, Archbishop of Hue, and President of the National Bishops’ Conference says he is “optimistic” about the future of Catholic-Vietnamese relations. “Communists and Catholics – he said in an interview with Eglises d’Asie – understand each other much better than before.”

And yet, as he states, “the communist regime is always a dictatorial regime whose authorities tend to oppress opponents,” including Catholic priests and bloggers. The same authorities who, on the other hand, “steal” the land of the monasteries, want to exclude Catholics from sectors such as education or health, hide the terrible consequences of pollution to the people, do not want a Vatican representative residing in the country, who seek to interfere in the appointment of bishops and in any activities the Church intends to take.

“I’m optimistic – he declares – because after a long period of cohabitation, members of society are trying to get closer. Communists and Catholics understand each other much better than before. Catholics are less and less suspected. Before people were led by what the propaganda was saying. Now they can view things with their own eyes and find out that Catholics are not as bad as they thought. And then the testimony of Catholics becomes more and more positive. Hate and rancor are diminishing. Relations are getting more and more friendly. It takes courage to overcome this period. You have to be patient, you cannot change the country in five minutes. ”

The Archbishop then explains the episode of the assault and vandalism carried out on the Benedictine monastery of Thiên An on June 28. The fact is that the law does not recognize private property and this also applies to the approximately 107 hectares of land in the monastery. The authorities “stole it to sell it off to foreign companies”. “They do not care” about the rights of monks and do whatever they want. So they knocked down a cross and when the monks raised it again there was the attack on the convent.

Priests and bloggers threatened or arrested fall into the logic of the “dictatorial regime”. The attitude towards the of the Formosa Plastic Group ecological disaster should also be viewed according to the same logic. “The government is always afraid to recognize the truth about the Formosa scandal” because of due compensation, “it is always facing the same problem of corruption.”

As for the new law “on believers and religions”, “in general, it is a step back, there is no progress; We still have no real freedom. For example, there are many areas in which the Church has no right to engage, such as healthcare, education, etc. It has not emerged from the mentality of the ‘demand and concession’ system (‘xin-cho’), for which permission must be sought for any initiative and the authorities can grant it or not.

The prelate goes on to voice his “disappointment” at the failure to agree on a Vatican Nuncio resident in Vietnam. “We do have a ‘non-resident representative of the Holy See’. He lives in Singapore and has the right to stay in Vietnam for only a month, then has to leave. All his movement in Vietnam must be approved by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry. Our expectations are measured, but the government does not dare to go ahead without the approval of the Chinese authorities.”

Finally, vocations are numerous in Vietnam. Both in seminaries and in religious orders. “We have obtained some freedom in the organization of the activities of formation centers.” The policy for which state approval is needed to send a young man to a seminary remains theoretically in force, but no longer applies, and every diocese that wishes to do so also finds it relatively easy to send young people to study abroad. “This is our hope. Those returning from abroad will return to work in our formation centers and gradually improve the quality of formation.”