State-Church tensions boil over again after state media have launched a campaign calling for the removal of Hanoi’s archbishop and Catholics’ protests have erupted to show support behind him.

Prayer vigil at Hanoi Cathedral
Prayer vigil at Ke Sat
During a meeting with a group of assembled diplomats, scheduled on Oct. 15 in order to gauge the envoys' attitude toward possible government action against Church officials, Chairman of Hanoi’s Committee insisted "the Hanoi archbishop must be transferred out of Hanoi as he has neither reputation nor creditability with the city’s citizens, including Catholic faithful."

After Nguyen The Thao had “fired the gun,” state media, lining up awaiting for the marathon, swamped in with massive reports repeating the chairman’s demand for the removal of Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi. Some reports even went further by stating that foreign diplomats who attended the meeting supported the demand.

Almost immediately after the meeting, state media furnish comments from numerous of “furious citizens” demanding the immediate removal as if they could not live together in the same city with the prelate even for one more day.

For a Catholic reporter in Hanoi, the readiness of state media for any attacks aiming at Catholics is absurb yet its reasons are traceable. “The trial of two reporters and two high-ranking police officers who exposed a multi-million dollar political corruption scandal seems to take effects immediately,” commented Hoang Pham. “Some journalists in Vietnam seem to be ready more than ever in co-operation with the government to defame ‘enemies of the regime’. The trial shed a cloud of fear. Now, many want to show their faithfulness to the Party at any cost, even at the sufferings of innocent people,” he warned.

Hanoi Catholics, meanwhile, have not easily submitted to Thao’s aggressiveness. Thousands of Catholics with their placards gathered in St. Joseph Cathedral in a prayer vigil to pray for Msgr. Kiet and the Church in Vietnam demanding again that the government must return the nunciature as it had promised.

At Ke Sac, a parish in Hai Phong diocese, over 3,000 people from Hung Yen, Bac Ninh, and Hanoi gathered in a prayer vigil with similar intentions.

In Saigon, many parishes have held prayer vigils for Hanoi Archbishop and his faithful. Some even have banners outside the church stating clearly that the parishioners protest the injustice against their brothers and sisters in Hanoi.