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Private-property rights at root of Church conflict with Viet government, prelate says

Catholic World News - January 27, 2010

A Vietnamese cardinal has said that the government’s denial of any right to own private property lies at the root of recent clashes between Catholic activists and police officials. Cardinal Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) told an interviewer that the government’s decision in 1975 to abrogate all rights to private property had led to “so much abuse, injustice, and spreading civil unrest.” He recalled that in 2008 the Vietnamese bishops’ conference issued a call for change, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims the right to hold property “alone as well as in association with others.”

Vietnamese Catholics have repeatedly protested the government’s seizure of parish properties-- which “goes against cultural traditions and moral values of the nation,” the cardinal said. The resulting confrontations have sometimes ended in violence. The cardinal noted that from the perspective of the government, Catholic activists are behaving as “rebels” when they protest the government’s confiscation of church properties. But to the Catholics, the government is the source of the injustice.

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