VIEWPOINT OF THE VIETNAM CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS TOWARD CURRENT ISSUES
The joy and hope, sorrow and worry of the Vietnamese people are also the joy and hope, sorrow and worry of ours, the bishops from the Conference of the Vietnamese Catholic Bishops. Politics is not in the Church’s functionalities, yet we cannot stand aside from society. Therefore, as Church leaders, we are responsible to preach the Church social teachings, in order to advance people and improve entirely the living conditions of society. After much discussion and praying with one another, we would like to state our viewpoint on a number of important issues in the current situation.
I. THE CURRENT SITUATION
1. The prolonged, unresolved complaints and denunciations on land are the current issue, including land of religions in general and of the Catholic Church in particular. The disputes at Hanoi nunciature (42 Nha Chung St) and at Thai Ha parish (178 Nguyen Luong Bang, Hanoi) are typical. There are many factors attributing to the situation, but we would like to focus our attention to this particular one: the land laws though modified numerous times yet still outdated and inconsistent, thus unable to catch up with the speed of social transformation process, especially the right to own private property has not been taken into consideration. Furthermore, the national corruption and bribery calamities have worsened the situation. One cannot possibly contemplate a comprehensive solution without paying attention to these factors.
2. In the process of solving the disputes, a number of the mass media were proven to be effective in spreading doubts and mistrust instead of bridging the nation with mutual understanding and unification. Frankly, the media has never been as advanced and powerful as it is now. Thanks to this, people can gain more knowledge and improve their communication with one another. The mass media however, can only bring benefits to people and society when it serves the truth and gives a true reflection of reality. Nowadays, one of the most aching issues for conscientious people is the dishonesty in many areas, even in the environment of education where truth is needed most. Definitely, no one concerned about the future of our country and our people can afford not to pay attention to this situation.
3. Also during the process of resolving the above conflicts and many others, there are people who opt to do it through violence, thus creating more social injustice. This tendency is on the rise, not only in the major social issues but also in people’s family lives as well as in school environment. Violence and aggression have deeply rooted in the very people’s conscience where there has always been on- going struggles between good and evil, light and darkness. Without guidance and practice, human beings will be vulnerable to selfish ambitions, and evil will prevail in social lives. Therefore, moral teaching and conscience training must be top priority for the entire society, and they require an active involvement of all citizens as well as social organizations.
II. OUR VIEWPOINT
Facing the current situation, we have the following suggestions:
1. First, if the land and property laws are still outdated and inconsistent, they ought to be revised. This revision needs to take the right to own private property into consideration as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.” and “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” (article17). We, therefore, assume that instead of resolving the issues by dealing with each single case on an individual basis, authorities have to search for a more thorough solution, meaning to let the people have the right to own their land and property. People in return must be responsible for the society. This demand becomes more urgent in the globalization process, when Vietnam has been more involving in the global rhythm. This should be the premise to resolve people’s complaints and denunciations on land and property; and at the same time, it can also contribute to the economic growth and the steady development of the country.
2. Next, professional ethics requires media personnel to respect the truth. In reality, there has been distorted and tailored information as in the land dispute at Hanoi former nunciature. We, therefore, suggest that media personnel should take precaution in broadcasting or publishing the news and pictures, especially when reputation and integrity of individuals or a community are at stake. If incorrect information was given, it should be retracted or corrected. Only when the truth is respected can the media community finish their duty which is to inform and educate the public of a just, democratic and civilized society.
3. Last but not least, the Vietnamese ethics and cultural tradition emphasizes on friendship, understanding, and harmony in society. However, during the process of resolving the recent disputes, aggressions have been utilized, thus destroying the harmonious interrelation in our lives. Hence, we passionately call for everyone to stop any form of aggression, in our acts as in our words. We also should not look at these disputes from a political or criminal standpoint. One satisfactory solution would only be achieved through frank, open and sincere dialogue, in peace and mutual respect to one another.
Coming from our desire to actively contribute to the stable and steady development of our country, we share this thought with our fellow Christians and all people of good will and sincere hearts. We firmly believe that when all of us are working to build our country based on the truth, justice and love, Vietnam our country will become more prosperous and it will bring happiness and wealth to everyone, attributing to a better world.
Prepared at the Bishop's Office of Xuan Loc, Sept 25. 2008
On behalf of the Conference of Vietnamese Bishops
Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon (signed and sealed)
© Translated from Vietnamese by VietCatholic Network