Vinh Catholics celebrate Mass against govt’s smear campaign
The state television had last Sunday aired a 10-minute report that made defamatory accusations against Bishop Paul Nguyen, Auxiliary Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Vien and the faithful of Vinh diocese.
Bishops, priests and faithful of Vinh diocese on Monday celebrated ‘Mass for peace and justice’ for the end of what they termed was a smear campaign against the diocese and its bishop by State TV and newspapers.
The state television had last Sunday aired a 10-minute report that made defamatory accusations against Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, Auxiliary Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Vien and the faithful of Vinh diocese.
The state media accused the bishop and the faithful of making false charges of religious persecution following their demand for the release of two parishioners jailed for months without charges.
Calling for peace and justice for the country and its citizens, Bishop Emeritus Paul Marie Cao Dinh Thuyen concelebrated the Mass with Bishop Nguyen, strongly reaffirming support for the bishop and the entire Catholic community.
The Mass held at the Shrine of St. Anthony – a pilgrimage centre not far from the place where police cracked down on a rally demanding release of the two jailed parishioners on September 4 – was attended by 200 priests and more than 3000 faithful.
The celebration of Mass was seen as an act of defiance as rules laid down by the Vietnamese religious authorities require that local administration must approve ‘extraordinary celebrations’.
The bishops and priests held a meeting after the Mass to prepare a letter of response to the government accusations.
“I'm very sad that the authorities continue to air false information in our age when people around the world are approaching the goal of clear, accurate information,” said Bishop Nguyen.
He said the smear campaign was as a result of diocese of Vinh’s intervention for the release of imprisoned parishioners.
The Vietnamese government has been cracking down on bloggers, activists and dissidents seeking religious freedom, respect for civil rights and end of one-party state.