Re: Current Situation at East Sea

Since May 2nd, 2014, China has arbitrarily deployed a drilling rig known as HD-981 and a number of escort vessels including military ones to occupy and carry out activities well within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. On May 3rd, 2014 and the next day, Chinese marine vessels, with the aid of war planes, launched an attack against Vietnamese Fisheries Surveillance and an on duty Coast Guard vessels. This was a provocative and escalating action with a clear intention of the China government to carry out step by step its plan to invade Vietnam, disregarding the International Codes of Conduct that were signed by China and Vietnam, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the Draft Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (DOC). This situation is posing a very high risk of war.

Being concerned with this tense and dangerous situation, the Vietnamese Conference of Catholic Bishops, with our duly responsibility, stating our position as follow:

1. The Catholic Church in Vietnam has always been perseverant with promoting Peace and asserting anti-war position. Peace will not cause us to lose anything but war will destroy all. Therefore, all current disputes need to be resolved faithfully by the roadmap of dialogue, excluding all behaviours of provocative, combative, war or hate promoting nature from both sides. The Chinese government must stop all aggressive behaviours of this nature. Let the words of the late Pope Paul VI resonate: "No more one against the other, no more, never again.. ... "(Speech at the 1965 UN Conference).”Peace expresses itself only in peace, a peace which is not separate from the demands of justice but which is fostered by personal sacrifice, clemency, mercy and love” (World Day of Peace Message, 1975)

2. Vietnam government, while being persistent with their diplomatic, pro dialogue policy in resolving conflicts, must take a firm stance based on principle of our traditional values of prioritizing the interest of our people and our country. So far, all treaties or agreements supposed to show the respect for the mutual friendship between the two neighbouring countries, between the two Communist parties, in reality have never served our national interest, instead they only lead our country into imperilment.

3. For the Vietnamese Catholic, this is the time when we need to express wholeheartedly our patriotism as instructed by Pope Emeritus Benedict's XVI teaching: "Being a good Catholic also means being a good citizen". Our patriotism can be demonstrated when we are not turning our back on the country's current situation as well as its future, when we diligently make sacrifices as well as pray for our country, and our people. And in our clear conscience, ready to answer the call to rescue our fatherland from imperilment.

4. The Vietnamese Conference of Catholic Bishops asks every diocese to dedicate a National Day of Prayer for our homeland in which all faithful are asked to repent, reduce consumption of food and drink, limit shopping in order to share what we have with the fishermen as well as wounded sailors and coast guardsmen, all victims of Chinese marine vessels as the initiative taken by Pope Francis on Sept. 7th, 2013.

Carrying out the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church, the Vietnamese Conference of Catholic Bishops always demonstrates our roadmap of promoting peace in our mission and wish that peace and justice would be implemented in resolving the current conflicts.

May 09th, 2014
President of the Vietnamese Conference of Catholic Bishops
Paul Bui Van Doc,
Archbishop of Saigon Archdiocese

(Signed and sealed)