Bishop Vincent’s Speech at Prayer Vigil for the Church in Vietnam

Ladies and gentleman, On behalf of the Vietnamese Catholic Community of Australia, I thank you for coming here today, for showing your solidarity with the Catholic people of Vietnam and indeed for the future of Vietnam.

Australia has been a true friend of Vietnam through thick and thin. When the communist north invaded the south, Australia came to the aid of the South Vietnamese people. Aussie soldiers at Nui Dat were known to be tough, disciplined to the enemies and yet friendly and generous to the locals. At the end of the war, when millions of Vietnamese refugees escaped from communism, Australia opened its arms. Even now, Australia is a vital partner in a lot of ways to Vietnam.

The Vietnamese communist government, however, have betrayed the dreams and aspirations of the Vietnamese people. They have dealt harshly with those who justly and peacefully ask for their rights and freedoms, including the Catholic people. The recent events at the Redemptorist-led Parish in Hanoi are typical of the way the communist government of Vietnam deal with its people. They use force to brutalise people and achieve their aim by coercion and intimidation.

For example, on November 3rd, hundreds of intruders broke into the courtyard of the church. They used loud speakers to insult and threaten to kill priests and parishioners. They even used sledgehammers to damage the monastery. These outrageous acts were carried out in the presence of security agents and followed by distorted reporting by the state-controlled media in Vietnam. Then more recently, on November 16th, in the dark of night, the government sent in heavy machineries accompanied by hundred of riot police in order to turn part of the church’s property into a sewage treatment plant- completely disregarding the just rights and wishes of the Church.

We the Australian Vietnamese Catholic Community strongly denounce these acts of state-sponsored terrorism against the Catholic Church in Vietnam on the part of the Vietnamese Communist government and appealed to the Australian government to do all it can in order that these acts be ceased immediately and human rights be respected for all of its citizens.

In many ways, the events at the Catholic Church in Hanoi are symptomatic of a government hell-bent on controlling its citizens, defending its totalitarian regime and protecting the privileges of its ruling class at all costs. Hence, we stand here in solidarity not only with one parish or one religion under persecution but also with all concerned citizens for a better Vietnam, a Vietnam free from atheistic communist ideology that has caused so much suffering to its people. President Barack Obama said in our parliament the other day that history is on the side of free peoples and free societies. We ask the Australian government and all Australians to help your friends the Vietnamese people to make their dream of freedom come true.