During the last 24 hours, Hanoi Archbishop and his office have issued several statements relating to the new Hanoi coadjutor's appointment. They have been observed as efforts to ease concerns, and even angers, among Catholics and non-Catholics that Vatican has been conceding to pressure from the communist government for the removal of the Archbishop of Hanoi.

In his latest statement, Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi called the new coadjutor's appointment a “great news” and urged his flock in Hanoi “thank God and the Holy See for sending him [the new coadjutor] to come and serve the archdiocese, and to help me in my fragile health.”

In urging Hanoi's Catholics to welcome the arrival of the of Coadjutor Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon at his new home, the archbishop explicitly asked priests in the archdiocese to immediately name Bishop Peter in the prayer for local bishops during Masses celebrated in the archdiocese.

In an interview published shortly after the appointment by the Vatican, Archbishop Joseph Ngo said that the appointment was motivated solely by Vatican’s concerns about his fragile health, insisting that The Holy See has always supported him.

But the public reaction has been a far cry from what supposed to be a joyful event for the Vietnamese Church.

Despite a series of passionate appeals from the archbishop and some Catholic media outlets, the new Hanoi coadjutor's appointment seems to be really hard to swallow for many Catholics. Vietnamese Websites, including those run by Catholics, have been flooded with angry comments against the Holy See and the country’s Episcopal Conference.

Rumours circulating across the Internet suggest that the Holy See, in order to exchange for a full diplomatic relations, and the Pope’s visit to Vietnam, has bowed to the pressure from Hanoi regime to root out the prelate who has been becoming so popular to the Vietnamese public as the lone voice for the oppressed, thus conveniently making himself the thorn in the eyes of the Vietnamese government, which wasted no time in publicly calling out for his replacement, charging him of fuelling anti-government sentiments.

Some have gone as far as stating that diplomatic relations and a potential Papal visit at that cost will not be welcomed by Vietnamese Catholics.

The decision of Vatican to appoint a coadjutor bishop older than the ordinary has been suspected by many as an initiative to gauge the reactions of Catholics in a process towards the removal of Mgr. Kiet from Hanoi. In relative comparison to other dioceses, the archdiocese of Hanoi with 335,000 Catholics, 143 parishes and 90 diocesan and religious priests seems not in great need to have three bishops.

Despite his insistence that the Holy See has always supported him, Mgr. Kiet has been portrayed by many as a victim of both the communists and the Vatican stemming from his stance against the government in the Church’s property issues. While being praised by the people from all walks of life as a caring, courageous religious leader, the prelate has found himself becoming isolated even among his fellow bishops who'd seen him as obstacle of the so- called peaceful process of coexistence with the Communists.

The relationship between the prelate and the Vietnamese government has been steadily deteriorated since 2007 when he urged and explicitly supported Catholics in Hanoi in their protests against illegal expropriation by the government of the former Nunciature of Hanoi and Thai Ha parish.

In the era of open markets, land values have increased at a dizzying rate. As values of religious properties being reassessed, their economic potentials turn out to be so great that the authorities must find ways to claim them for personal gains. Citing the Communist system where “all land belongs to the people and is managed by the State on behalf of the people”, local governments throughout Vietnam have forced religious leaders to “donate” religious properties. In most cases, before the victims can react, demolition would start soon to convert these properties into hotels, restaurants, and night clubs.

In that fashion, a wave of churches, monasteries, seminaries, schools, hospitals, and other social centres throughout the country have one by one slip into the hands of local authorities.

Some suggest that the appointment of Bishop Peter Nguyen, someone with a “moderate” stance in the eyes of many, and the potential removal of Archbishop Joseph Ngo will result in negative consequences on the determination of the hierarchy to defend Church’s properties.

Last year, Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, President of the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam, failed to protect the 79,200m2 Dalat Collegium Pontificium. It’s the largest and dearest seminary to the hearts of many bishops and priests in Vietnam as 14 priests who had graduated from there were ordained as bishops.

His appointment to Hanoi coadjutor bishop (with right of succession) has been seen by many as a big blow against Catholics’ protests against illegal expropriation of Church’s properties by the communist government.