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Former archbishop returns to Hanoi after controversial replacement

Catholic World News - August 10, 2010

The former Archbishop of Hanoi, who spent several weeks in the US after his controversial retirement in May, has returned to Vietnam to take up residence in a monastery.

Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet cited health reasons when he announced his retirement at the age of 57, although no urgent medical concerns have been disclosed. He was immediately replaced by Archbishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, who had been appointed as his coadjutor less than a month earlier.

The replacement of Archbishop Ngo prompted serious concerns about the faithful in Vietnam. The outgoing archbishop had been the target of fierce criticism by Vietnamese political officials, and the government had demanded his removal. The appointment of a coadjutor, followed quickly by the archbishop’s retirement, sparked concern that the Vatican had struck a deal with the government to advance the prospects for resuming diplomatic relations.

Archbishop Ngo has said that he was not pressured to resign, and in fact had pleaded for the Vatican to replace him. He said that he was troubled by exhaustion and insomnia.

Upon returning from a visit to the US, the former archbishop met with his successor in Hanoi before heading for the Chau Son monastery where he will now live. The Vietnamese bishops’ conference issued a statement saying that the meeting between Archbishop Nguyen and former Archbishop Ngo was “emotional, familial, and joyful.”

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