Vietnamese government officials have moved to seize the property of a Catholic monastery in Hue province, in the latest in a series of steps to appropriate real estate from Church ownership.

Police raided the monastery of Thien An on June 26, drawing a formal protest from Abbot Nguyen Van Duc. The abbot said that the government's bid for control of the 100-acre property, based on a unilateral decree dating back to 1998, is illegal.

Last year local officials prevented monks from building a roof on an outdoor shrine, saying that construction on the site would be illegal. Since that time the monks have been subjected to periodic police raids and harrassment.