Statement of the Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media Federation
May is the month dedicated for intense devotions to honour Our Lady. For Vietnamese Catholics, it is a special time to shift our attention to our Blessed Virgin Mary of La Vang National Pilgrimage Center where she has healed her children in the time of persecutions and sufferings. Like our ancestors, we too ask our Blessed Mother to comfort and protect our Church and our motherland so that all will soon enjoy true freedom and justice. It is also a special time as we celebrate the Day of Prayer and Remembrance for our country after falling into the Communists’ control on April 30, 1975. We representatives of the Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media Federation – priests, religious and laity – wish to pay tribute to national heroes who gave up their lives for true democracy and freedom, as well as to the boat people who lost their lives on the open sea and in Laos and Cambodia. We also wish to pay sincere tribute to prisoners from North to South Vietnam who lost their lives in Communist re-education camps.
In that sense, we think it is now the right time to (1) be united in prayer; (2) be thankful for God’s blessings and to those countries that have welcomed our Vietnamese refugees; (3) be united with our mother Church and our native land in Vietnam; and (4) build our solidarity and love with all Vietnamese communities around the world.United in Prayer
Last weekend, Vietnamese Catholic Communities around the world prayed for our native land and our fellow countrymen so that everyone will soon enjoy true freedom, justice, and human rights, especially freedom of speech and freedom of worship. We also prayed in very a special way for those who have had the courage to fight for freedom, peace, and justice, including Father Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly and others who recently have suffered torture, persecution and suppression at the hands of the communists. We strictly condemn the unjust legal system of the Vietnamese Communists that aims to segregate, persecute and exterminate these freedom-fighters. May their sacrifices bring back true and lasting freedom for Vietnam! Thankful to God and to those countries that open their arms to welcome Vietnamese Refugees
Re-settling on foreign lands, Overseas Vietnamese Communities are growing and excelling in many aspects of social, cultural and economical life. We are very proud that overseas Vietnamese youth have shown to the world their exceptional talents and intellect. Their achievements are the result of the sacrifices and hardships of their parents and grandparents, and the kindness and openness of their host countries. The overseas Vietnamese youth have a very bright future in these new lands.
Heirs of the deep faith legacy of the Vietnamese martyrs, today’s Vietnamese Catholic Communities around the world are testifying to this through their daily lives as Catholics. As a result, several national Conferences of Catholic Bishops continue to praise them for their lively and fruitful Catholic faith. Thus, it is the time for us to seriously take the task of evangelization in these new lands and to actively contribute our part to the local Church and the Church in Vietnam.United with our Native land and Mother Church
Before 1975, we were very proud that none of the neighboring countries could surpass the South of Vietnam. Unfortunately, today, after 32 years of Communist dictatorship and torture, many of our Vietnamese brothers and sisters are still living in poverty, hunger and ignorance. The social moral system is degraded. Corruption and the abuse of power of the red capitalists are rampant. The educational system has collapsed; instead of serving human development, it serves only the interests of the regime. Religions are discriminated against, segregated, persecuted and exterminated.
Thanks to the blood of our Vietnamese Martyrs and the fidelity of our bishops, priests, religious and laity, despite these sorrowful and immoral situations, our Catholic Church in Vietnam has steadfastly preserved her Catholic identity. Our mother Church has not submitted to the regime and is not “nationalized” as in the case of the Church in China.
We must assert that over the past 32 years, our Vietnamese Bishops have persistently voiced their requests for more religious freedom and human rights for Vietnam.
“Every year, we have meetings with Vietnamese government officials to whom we raise issues such as: religious freedom, social moral degradation, youth education, equality and justice. In fact, we are the only entity that dares to discuss these things with them and we will continue to do so
,” Bishop Paul Nguyen Van Hoa, President of Vietnamese Catholic Bishops Conference, said recently.
Thus, the Vietnamese Communist regime must listen to and acknowledge the positive role of our Catholic Church in the society.
We wish to mention here some small signs of hope: the recent trip to Rome of Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Tan Dung where he personally met with Pope Benedict XVI; the admission of Vietnam into the World Trade Organization; and some progress in the recent trip of Vatican delegation to Vietnam several months ago.
However, last month, we sadly witnessed some articles, interviews, and documentaries of overseas Vietnamese media that revealed serious abuse of their freedom of speech. Instead of using their skills and efforts to attack the main culprit of all sufferings in Vietnam, that is, the government and the Communist party in Vietnam; they shifted the focus to our Bishops – the Shepherds of People of God – as if our Bishops, not the communists, are those who should be blamed.
These critics probably think that Vietnamese Church authorities do not oppose the regime in the way they want. As we give our sympathy and lend our support to those who are enthusiastically supporting the struggle to demand true democracy and human rights for Vietnam, We also acknowledge that it has been proven in human history that there are many different ways to fight for true freedom and democracy and that
the more we are united, the sooner our fellow countrymen will be liberated. Thus, we re-affirm our position to lend full support to our Vietnamese Catholic Church and our Bishops in our motherland.
Let us continue to pray for our Bishops that the Holy Spirit will guide and confirm them so that they can fulfill their pastoral and prophetic duties as Shepherds!
Confronted with shaky situations of the nation, the Church in Vietnam is always in union with the joys and the hopes, the griefs and anxieties of her fellows, as mentioned in the Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes:
“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds
” (Part I, Gaudium et Spes).
We must also remember what our beloved Pope John Paul II told us during the canonization of the 117 Vietnamese Martyrs:
“To the Vietnamese Catholic Community, we wish to remind you that the blood of the Vietnamese Martyrs is for you, Catholics of Vietnam. It is the source of grace for you in order to progress in faith. Among you, the faith of your ancestors is still being transmitted to the new generations. This faith authentically remains the foundation of the perseverance for all those who want to be faithful to their native land, and at the same time to be the true disciples of Christ. While the search of the common good of the native land is a sincere duty of Christian citizens, they must be free to proclaim the truth of God, in communion with the shepherds and their siblings in the faith. And thus, they can live in peace with others to construct with conscience the good of all
Together with the Holy See and in union with the Vietnamese Catholic Bishops Conference, the universal Catholic Church, all the nations around the world which support freedom and democracy, and all those of good will, we demand that the Vietnamese Communist regime seriously observe and respect religious freedom and satisfy all legitimate requests of the Vietnamese Catholic Church as follows:
United with other Communities to re-build our Mother land
- - Return immediately all Church properties that were forcefully confiscated, especially the Apostolic Nuncio Palace in Hanoi, and lands that belong to Blessed Virgin Pilgrimage Center in La Vang.
- - The Church must be free in the selection of candidates for seminaries, for priesthood and for ordination as Bishop. In addition, she must have the right to participate in education-related matters such as running schools to educate youth for common good of the society and the Church.
- - The Church must be free to involve in any charitable activities such as running hospitals, orphanages, medical centers, and the like to serve the poor, the homeless, and the marginalized.
Vietnam is our own motherland not the Communists’ exclusive property. Thus, building and serving our mother land is the responsibility of every citizen. No one, no party or political organization, is permitted to act on behalf of any ideology or any doctrine to exclusively “own” this country or to identify itself with our fatherland in the way the Vietnamese Communist Party is now doing.
The overseas Vietnamese Catholics should be clearly aware of their responsibility to do the following:
- (1) Preserve and maintain our ancestors’ magnanimous legacy; and transmit our own nation’s noble traditions, culture, and language to future generations;
- (2) Unite with our Vietnamese brothers and sisters to fight for justice and democracy; actively support those who are fighting for human rights in Vietnam, especially religious freedom, freedom of speech, and the right to choose an appropriate political institution and democracy;
- (3) As Catholics, we must be faithful and loyal to our Catholic faith and the Church to become living witnesses for the Gospel in every situation, to advance our mother Church and our native land.
May God and Our Lady of La Vang pour out abundant blessings on our native land and all our fellow Vietnamese.
Manila – Philippines – May 1, 2007Representatives of the Vietnamese Catholic Mass Media Federation:(All Signed)
- Msgr. Nguyen Van Tai, Director of Radio Veritas Asia (Chair)
- Rev. Tran Cong Nghi, Director of VietCatholic Network (Vice-Chair)
- Rev. Nguyen Duc Viet Chau, Editor of Dan Chua Magazine in USA
- Rev. Bui Thuong Luu, Editor of Dan Chua Magazine in Europe
- Rev. Nguyen Huu Quang, Editor of Dan Chua Magazine in Australia
- Rev. Tran Cao Tuong, Director of DungLac Network
- Rev. Pham Van Tue, Board Member
- Rev. Nguyen Ngoc Chuan, Board Member
- Mr. Dang Minh An, Board Member
- Mr. Nguyen Duc Cung, Board Member
- Mr. Pham Hop, Board Member
- Ms. Nguyen Kim Loan, Board Member
- Ms. Luong Bich Vi, Board Member