The Sunday morning protest of Catholics on the streets of Hanoi was probably the largest so far after the Communist takeover in 1954. A bishop and hundreds of priests led more than ten thousand of protestors praying at the nunciature before an open altar set up at the middle of the street.

Bishop Joseph Dang Duc Ngan of Lang Son and hundreds of priests from Ha Nam, Ha Tay and Nam Dinh led ten thousands of protestors marching on the streets of Hanoi to the nunciature where an altar with a large statue of Our Lady was set up right at the fence between the protestors and police.

The protestors could not reach to the gate of the nunciature where hundreds of construction workers had been working through night to convert the nunciature into a library and a park. Police had dragged 3 layers of barbed wire fence across the road leading to the nunciature to stop them.

The prelate and priests took turn to incense the altar while protestors sang Rosary and hymns. Police dogs reacted angrily at the crowd when they were led near to the fence to threaten protestors.

On Saturday morning, Archbishop Joseph Ngo and priests from St. Joseph Major Seminary went to People’s Committee of Hanoi city to strongly protest the plan and asked them to stop besieging the archbishop’s residence area.

Standing at the site among protestors, Fr. Joseph Nguyen reported that as at 9 am local time “Hanoi archbishop’s residence, St. Joseph Major Seminary, and the convent of Sisters of Adorers of the Holy Cross are still being under siege by Vietnamese massive forces of policemen, militiamen and security personnel aided by professionally trained dogs.”

“At some points, we could not even talk to him and staff in the archbishop’s office,” he added. “We could not even make a call to anywhere. Police vehicles with technology installed to block mobile signal so that no phone could make or receive calls,” he explained.

“At this time, I can see a lot of people around me, at least ten thousand, to say for sure. And people keep coming by any means they can reach. Police were ordered to stop and turn back buses carrying Catholics from other provinces infuxing into the capital. Also it rains sporadically,” he noted.

On Saturday night, the entire street leading to the nunciature was lighted up with thousands of candles in another protest of Hanoi Catholics.

A student from Hanoi university said: “I was here last night with at least 5,000 people. I prayed with them until very late. I had just gone home to take a sleep then return here with people. We were very upset with the way this government handle the issue.”

“My hope [for the return of the nunciature] is gone, but my belief in God is unshaken”, said Phuong Nguyen, another girl at early twenties. “Last February, we halted the protests out of the trust in them. However, they managed to delay returning the property through various bureaucratic maneuvers. Then, all in a sudden, they announced to demolish for a playground and immediately carried out their plan with the support of their armed forces. How can we still trust them?” she asked.

The bells on the cathedral now and then rang as if the Church is calling for help from faithful in a time of ordeal.