The threats of two Police Generals to subjugate Catholic protestors with “extreme actions” have resulted in virulent reactions of Vietnamese Catholics.

Pray in hot sun
Pray in cold rain
Pray late in the night despite of being filmed by police
In an article titled "For all who draw the sword will die by the sword" (Matthew 26:52), released today, Bishop Francis Nguyen Van Sang of Thai Binh diocese warns the communist government “not to use the sword.” “Using the sword against innocent civils is shameful,” he writes “and will be condemned by international public opinion.”

His statement is a typical Catholics' response to reports on the New Hanoi and the People’s Police papers on Monday Sep. 8 in which Lt. General Nguyen Van Huong, Vice-Minister of Public Security; and Major-General Nguyen Duc Nhanh, the Director of the Hanoi Police Agency warned Archbishop Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi, his priests and faithful of an imminent crackdown.

Bishop Francis Nguyen explains that Thai Ha parishioners have repeatedly request the requisition of the property claiming that it was seized illegally – all to no avail. In response to their legitimate claim, the government launched a media campaign falsely accusing them, their priests, and the Church as a whole; and then attacked them physically. “Only those who are totally devoid of all conscience can ignore the truth,” he added warning that “Dishonesty and brutality cannot dominate forever.”

In the meantime, despite of threats of violence from the government, “thousands of Catholics continue to gather daily here to pray,” Fr. Joseph Nguyen reported from Hanoi.

“They go in procession from the monastery to the land of dispute where most of the time they just stand in silent to pray for hours braving cold rain and hot sun,” he added. “The prayer protest is very peaceful. Sometimes protestors sing hymns, sometimes they sing the rosary together. But they never yell nor shout any slogans. They just stand there silently but stubbornly asking for justice,” said Fr. Joseph.

On Tuesday, another bishop joined the protestors. Bishop Cosme Hoang Van Dat of Bac Ninh led 39 priests and hundreds of faithful from his diocese to Thai Ha to pray with protestors.

“I have prayed for you from a far distant,” said Bishop Cosme Hoang. “Today, I want to be with you here at the church that I used to attend Mass in the childhood… to show my solidarity with you.”

Bishop Cosme Hoang has just been appointed bishop of Bac Ninh on April 4. Last week, he consecrated a church in Tam Dao which had been seized by the government for 54 years. The church was returned to the diocese on Aug. 8. In an emotional gesture, the congregation of more than 2000 faithful knelt down in front of the altar asking the Lord to forgive them of their failure to protect the God’s House.