Vietnam Communist Politburo praises state media for their “victory” against Catholics, yet the “losers” have experienced a high spirit of love, united, and hope.

During a conference in Hanoi on Oct. 8, agents of the Politburo for Media and Propaganda Affairs praised state-run media for their efforts to “spread quickly, timely, and on the right direction propaganda relating to the breaking-law incidents of priests, faithful, and Archbishop Ngo Quang Kiet at Thai Ha parish and at 42 Nha Chung [the former nunciature].” The New Hanoi reported that the Politburo also congratulated state media for their contributions on “the manipulation of public opinion to fight against wrong behaviors [of Catholics] in order to protect principles of law, and public safety and order.”

State media have not concealed their delight on the victory against the Church. Newspapers have furnished congratulation greetings to journalists and reporters who are waiting medals and promotions from the Politburo.

However, Catholics - “the losers” - have other views. “The nunciature had been used for a night club with loudly music frequently disrupting to church services at the nearby Hanoi Cathedral. Thanks to the protests that harassment has gone now,” said Mai Nguyen, a parishioner of Hanoi Cathedral.

Viewing the issue in a deeper, or rather more spiritual, Fr. Joseph Nguyen reported from Hanoi “I have seen more people go to church even on weekdays, and more demands on Catholic Social Teaching studies, especially from young students. I think it’s more important than whatever.”

“When the bishops cried out for the rights of individuals to own their property, and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property,” he continued, “a group of students told me they could see the Church’s social teachings are very appealing. They wanted to know more.”

“Often young people are Catholic more because they are sacramentalised and educated in their families than because they have met Christ in their hearts. They are often unsure of the Church's teachings, the reasons for these and even how one is supposed to practice the faith. Living in a society full of injustice, and blatant dishonesty in which who has the power is the winner; if they are not guided they would search for power in order to be a big fish that can eat the smaller,” he insisted.

Over 300km away from Hanoi, in Vinh diocese, all parishes have held prayer vigils to pray for the Church, and in particular for Hanoi archdiocese. On Saturday night of Oct 11, over 1700 faithful at My Du parish attended a Candlelight Prayer Vigil outside their church. Recalling the pastoral visit of Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet after the storm No.7 had struck the parish last year, Fr. J.B. Pham Quang Long wished to send the sentiments of love and united of My Du’s parishioners to the prelate, Redemptorist priests and parishioners at Thai Ha. The parish, with 2300 faithful, has also had long land dispute with local government.

Bishop Hilton Deakin of Melbourne
Over 2000 attended the prayer vigil
People of other ethnic groups attended the prayer vigil
On Tuesday, thousands of Catholics at Lac Son braved biting winds to attend a similar Candlelight Prayer Vigil with seminarians of Vinh Thanh seminary.

Since the last three weeks, Cau Ram, Vinh Yen, and Yen Dai parishes have held prayer vigils and special Masses each week to pray for Catholics in Hanoi.

On last Sunday and the Sunday before, over 2000 faithful attended a Candlelight Prayer Vigil at Con Ca parish. After hours braving cold winds to pray for justice and Hanoi Catholics, people went inside the church of Our Lady of Rosary for Perpetual Eucharistic adoration.

In overseas, prayer vigils have been held at Catholic communities in Australia, Europe, USA, and Japan.

On Friday night, Bishop Hilton Deakin led a prayer vigil at Federation Square, Melbourne. Over 2000 people attended the event.

Fr Anthony Nguyen, Chairman of the Australian Vietnamese Christian Association, referring the Amnesty report on Oct. 9, told the protestors that “The Church in Vietnam has been suffered the harshest crackdown in decades with numerous faithful who peacefully express their views on religious freedom and human rights have been detained, or intimidated.”

Addressing the protestors, Msgr. Hilton Deakin, Auxiliary Bishop for the Eastern Region of Melbourne, told them he has closely monitored what has been happening in Hanoi, and united with Vietnamese people in Australia “who are heartbreaking of what have happened to their fellows at their country of origin.” He, too, got shock at the images of “Catholics of Hanoi who were praying and put behind the barbed wire fence, and on the other side were soldiers with machine guns, and police with batons,” and at the images of Catholic women with their blood-covered face.

Praising Hanoi Archbishop for his bravery, Bishop Deakin on behalf of protestors, “and of Catholics in Australia, and people of goodwill in the country condemn what have been done for our fellow Christians in Vietnam.”

For the representative of the Premier of Victoria at the Candlelight Prayer Vigil, “when a government attacks its own innocent civilians, it loses the battle.” Mr. Luke Donnellan, who had visited Fr. Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly last year, told the protestors how he could manage to see the priest who had been sentenced for 8 years, and what he had seen in Vietnam, expressing his hope and his wish that Vietnam would soon enjoy freedom.