“The stall over return of the Hanoi former nunciature is one of the reasons that make people not to trust in the willingness of the government for a constructive dialogue to solve the Thai Ha issue,” says Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet in an interview with VietCatholic News Agency this morning, 3rd September.

Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi
“The dispute in the former nunciature has been dragged on for more than 8 months,” he complaints. “We have followed the policy of the Holy See to solve the dispute with frank dialogue. But it seems to be so slow, and that very slowness impacts heavily on Thai Ha issue.”

Eight months ago, in a public statement on February 1, Archbishop Joseph Ngo confirmed reports that the government had agreed to return the nuncio's office to the Church, after more than a month of public protests by Catholics. In return for the government's promise, the Catholic protestors agreed to remove a cross and tents from the land adjacent to the building where they had been conducting regular prayer vigils.

Archbishop Joseph Ngo had said that the building would be turned over to the Church in a series of steps, eight months after the agreement was struck, however, no single step has been made.

According to Archbishop Joseph Ngo, who has just returned to Hanoi after a visit in Orange County diocese, California, another obstacle that hindrances the search for a just resolution for the dispute in Thai Ha is the tidal wave of one-way information furnished by the state-run media, which did not take into account the religious order's legal claims to the disputed property.

“The government must have some break-throughs, some innovations [in the way it handles land disputes],” he concludes.

In the same language, Cardinal John the Baptist Pham Minh Man, Archbishop of Saigon in a pastoral letter dated September 1st, sent to “All Priests, Religious and Faithful” in the archdiocese stated that “As the current land law is still containing numerous of nonsenses, and, on the other hand, authorities in many regions only blindly follow orders from their superiors without listening to people, nor taking each claim into consideration seriously; many disputes have been dragged on for too long, the Thai Ha claim is no exception. Blindly carrying out nonsense orders, abusing power, and using excessive force will not solve the problem, rather only cause more injustice and social instability.”