In a short message to faithful in Vietnam, bishops urge them to pray more as there are still numerous obstacles and difficulties in dialogue with the government.

Two days after the meeting with Vietnam Prime Minister, Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon of Dalat, president of the Vietnam Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Pham Minh Man of Saigon, Archbishop Nguyen Nhu The of Hue archdiocese, and Bishop Anthony Vu Huy Chuong of Hung Hoa sent a short message to Catholic faithful in Vietnam.

“On Wednesday evening of Oct. 1, 2008, from 17 to 18:30,” the bishops wrote, “after hearing our viewpoint on current issues, the Prime Minister presented a report on the current implementation of policies regarding religions in general and Catholic in particular,” in addition to “his viewpoint on the disputes at the former nunciature (42 Nha Chung) and at Thai Ha parish (178 Nguyen Luong Bang, Hanoi), and also his personal position concerning Hanoi Archbishop.”

A frank, yet fruitless dialogue.

Bishops described the meeting as a “frank dialogue” in which both sides could listen to each other. But, it produced no concrete results. “The road of dialogue could be reopened after it had seemed to be completely blocked,” bishops wrote. “However, the road for truth, justice, and long-term benefits for the nation is still a very long one with numerous obstacles and difficulties in dialogue. It requires wisdom and patience.”

In that context, bishops urge their faithful to pray more intensely, and be more “united in love”.

What do people think about the meeting?

“State television did not broadcast what bishops said,” Sr. Marie Nguyen from Saigon told VietCatholic News. “It tried to present the meeting as a class in which PM lectured the bishops and gave them instructions to carry out,” she commented.

For Fr. Pascal Nguyen Ngoc Tinh, a franciscan in Saigon, the meeting was just “a waste of money and time”. “Wasting their efforts to travel up to the capital, they heard nothing but what they had heard for years on the viewpoint of the Vietnam government on land,” he explained.

“It’s absurd to learn that during the meeting the representatives of the Vietnam Conference of Catholic Bishops have been assigned with the task to ‘educate’ Msgr. Kiệt,” he added. He was referring to Dung's remarks in which the PM asked the Conference of Bishops, for "the common good of all, to support and assist the prelate more as he needed to abide the state law." Dung also stated that the prelate must “have a serious review of his behavior in order to make practical corrections to overcome his shortcomings.”

Fr. Pascal Nguyen, a biblical scholar, disagreed with Dung. In the article titled “An outstanding leader of the Church in Vietnam” about Archbishop Joseph Ngô Quang Kiệt, he stated that “His [the Archbishop] words and behaviors have proven that he is a leader of high stature not only in the eyes of his faithful but also of his enemies.”

The article was written to explain reasons behind the deafening campaign to smear and isolate the prelate. “In my opinion, the very reason that made the communists jump up crazily as if they had electric shocked is that the prelate has the nerve to cry out for rights. When I stand up to demand for my rights, it means my rights have been taken away,” Fr. Pascal Nguyen maintained.