Home News Hanoi archdiocese decries storming of church during archbishop’s Mass

Hanoi archdiocese decries storming of church during archbishop’s Mass

“This action is unacceptable in a country with the rule of law, causing frustration and pain to the faithful," read part of the archdiocese's statement

The Archdiocese of Hanoi decried the “uncultured, inhumane act” of government officials who interrupted the celebration of Mass in the northern province of Hoa Binh on Sunday, February 20.

In a statement released on Friday, February 25, the archdiocese said it was “an indication of … abuse of power, a serious violation of right to enjoy religious freedom … as well as an act of sacrilege.”

“This action is unacceptable in a country with the rule of law, causing frustration and pain to the faithful present at church as well as those who view the images of the incident on the internet,” read the statement signed.

Catholics in Vietnam have earlier expressed “outrage” over the interruption of the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph Vũ Văn Thiên of Hanoi on Sunday.

Local communist party officials interrupted the Sunday morning service inside the Vu Ban parish church and ordered the archbishop to immediately stop the celebration and to disperse the congregation.

The archbishop was concelebrating Mass several priests to celebrate the “Missionary Day of the Archdiocese.”

The celebration continued after parishioners convinced the local officials to leave.

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In its statement, the archdiocese said that “two individuals in inappropriate clothes (one in a raincoat and protective helmet) rushed up to the sanctuary” before the Communion during Mass.

“They blatantly took the microphone at the podium, ordered the parishioners to disperse despite many parishioners and concelebrant priests trying to intervene,” read the archdiocese statement.

They local officials were identified as Pham Hong Duc, the Communist Party’s Secretary in Vu Ban town, and Pham Van Chien, vice chairman of the People’s Committee of Vu Ban.

On February 21, 2022, a day after the incident, the Archdiocese of Hanoi filed a complaint and asked the People’s Committee of Hoa Binh province to respect the right to freedom of religion and to participate in religious activities of all Catholics.

Authorities have been harassing religious activities in the province despite repeated requests by the archbishop for government’s intervention.

The storming of the church on Sunday happened weeks after the killing of Dominican priest Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh in Dak Mot, about 40 miles northwest of Kon Tum, on January 29.

“This is the first time I have ever seen local government officials approaching the altar to disrupt the Holy Mass without waiting for it to end before harassing the priests as they used to do in the past,” said Redemptorist priest Peter Nguyen Van Khai.

Vietnam remains a “country of particular concern” in terms of allowing its citizens to freely practice their religion, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

In a report last week, the commission said the country continues to suppress the followers of religions banned by the government.

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