October 1, 2008

The Most Reverend Peter Nguyen Van Nhon
Bishop of Da Lat, Vietnam
President, Vietnam Conference of Catholic Bishops
Toa Giam Muc
9 Nguyn Thai Hoc
Tp. Da Lat, Vietnam

Your Excellency:

I was deeply saddened to learn of the escalation in tension between the Church and Vietnamese local authorities as bulldozers arrived at the site of the building formerly occupied by the Apostolic Nunciature in Hanoi. This turn of events is all the more worrisome given what appeared to have been an agreement reached in February to resolve such disputes over property and land in a peaceful manner through dialogue. Certainly when Monsignor Parolin headed a Vatican delegation to Vietnam in June 2008, there had been talk of “gradual restoration to ecclesiastical use of properties previously nationalized.” This recent unilateral action by the Vietnamese government is in direct contravention to those earlier discussions.

As Chairman of the Committee on International Peace and Justice of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I want to express our solidarity with the Church in Vietnam in this difficult time. We fully support your Conference’s statement of September 25, 2008 which calls on the Government of Vietnam to enter into “frank, open and sincere dialogue, in peace and mutual respect” to resolve these land and property issues. We also strongly support your decision to stand in solidarity with Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet who has been falsely accused of inciting riots by the local authorities.

You, your brother bishops and the faithful of the Church in Vietnam are in our thoughts and prayers. Praying that the Lord will continue to give you strength and grace in this trying time, I remain,

Fraternally yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski
Bishop of Orlando
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace