National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Vietnamese Catholicism no simple matter

 | 

Nothing is ever simple in Vietnam, including Catholicism. Yesterday we published an article reporting that relations between the church and government are warming, and that it is even possible that Pope Benedict could visit Vietnam in 2010.

Today there are reports that thousands of Catholics marched on Vietnamese streets July 26 to protest the beating of two Catholic priests and the detainment of seven other Catholics.

At issue in these protests, and arrests, is a church in northern Vietnam destroyed by U.S. bombers during the Vietnam War. The government maintains that the Tam Toa church is national property and was dedicated as a war memorial in the late 1990s. The incident apparently started when Vietnamese Catholics placed a cross at the site.

It seems to be true that talks between the Vatican and the Vietnamse goverment are taking place. It is also true, generally speaking, that Catholics in southern Vietnam, under the leadership of Cardinal Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City, are more cooperative with government officials than are Catholics in the northern part of the country. Northern Vietnam, never having experienced the Second Vatican Council, is a more conservative church, and has been more visibily anti-communist for decades.

50th-Anniv-cover-2.jpgGet this special NCR 50th anniversary offer! Subscribe to NCR by Nov. 15 and get a 50th anniversary issue. This special issue is available exclusively to subscribers. Learn more.

There seem to be two overlapping approaches within the Vietnamese church in dealing with the Hanoi government, which is communist in name only. One stresses cooperation where possible, the other stresses conflict.

The reasons for these different approaches has as much to do with history and geography as it has to do with leadership. That said, Cardinal Man has been very effective in winning gains for Vietnamese Catholics in the Ho Chi Minh archdiocese, one of the fast growing dioceses in the world.

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

50-and-forward.jpg

NCR Email Alerts