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Thousands of Vietnamese Catholics pray for end to persecution

Catholic World News - January 26, 2010

Following the siege of a parish in Hanoi, the brutal beating of a religious, and the desecration of a crucifix, thousands of Vietnamese Catholics gathered on January 24 at the Redemptorist monastery in Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon) in southern Vietnam to pray for the end of the persecution of the Church in the Asian nation. Earlier in the day, thousands of Catholics gathered at the cathedral in Hanoi to pray for the nation.

State-controlled media outlets reported, with evident delight, that the parishioners at Dong Chiem had been forced to remove all crosses from a hill on the grounds of what had long been the parish cemetery. The demolition of a large crucifix there sparked a confrontation between parishioners and police. While the state media reported that Catholics had been persuaded to move their crosses through “a long process of patient reasoning, persuasion, and education,” the parishioners said that they were victims of harassment, intimidation, and violent coercion.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has repeatedly asked the US president and State Department to redesignate Vietnam as a country of particular concern in recognition of its egregious violations of religious freedom, but both the Bush and Obama administrations have chosen not to follow the commission’s recommendations. The nation had been designated a country of particular concern until 2006.

6.8% of the Vietnam’s 85.2 million residents are Catholic.

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