Vietnam: Archbishop protests at anti-Catholic media bias 

The Archbishop of Hanoi, Most Rev Joseph Ngô Quang Ki has protested over the way Vietnam’s state-controlled media has dealt with recent news about the Catholic Church there.

For weeks, while thousands of Catholic took part in peaceful prayer vigils in several towns, calling for the return of confiscated church property, the media was completely silent, he said. Then on Saturday, the media began to carry a series of negative reports of protestors who had placed a cross and a statue in the grounds of a former church property.

Archbishop Joseph said that the state-controlled radio, television and news papers reported that the archdiocese could not challenge the ownership of the building because “on 24 November 1961, Fr Nguyn Tùng Cng, the then Financial Administrator and Property Manager of the Archdiocese, donated the property to the government.”

The archbishop set the record straight by pointing out that if Fr Nguyn had given away the property, he would have had no legal authority to do so, but in fact, the Archbishop said, Fr Nguyn did not give the property away.

The archbishop’s statement, signed by Fr John Lê Trng Cung, chancellor of the archdiocese, also challenged state controlled media reports that Hanoi Catholics had destroyed state-owned properties, occupied state-owned land, gathered and prayed illegally in public areas, attacked and insulted officials, disturbed public order, erected illegally the cross in the garden of the site, and spread distortions about the government on the Internet.

He said: “The government does not have any evidence that the Church in Vietnam did donate it, nor a decree saying that it was confiscated. Hence, it is still a property of the archdiocese”, He argued that worshipping on a site belonging to the Church is one of right “protected by laws”. It cannot be interpreted as “gathering and praying illegally in public areas”. Also, “the cross and statues of the Virgin Mary were there originally. The faithful just moved them back to where they were”.

In response to accusation of spreading distortions about the government on the Internet, the archbishop said the Church in Hanoi was not responsible for the reports, but in fact most of these reports were completely accurate. He pointed out that the local state-controlled media also had a legal obligation to report the news truthfully and not distort it.

In conclusion, the prelate asked managers of the radio and the television of Hanoi, the New Hanoi newspaper, and the Capital Security newspaper to “investigate thoroughly following legal procedures” attacks on the Church by their reporters and publicly reply to Hanoi Catholics.


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