Despite strong pressure from Vietnam government, Church leaders have rejected a demand for the removal of several Redemptorists out of the capital. They also called for sincere and constructive dialogue, and self-restraint from government officials.

Chairman Nguyen The Thao
Vietnam Redemptorist provincial superior, Fr. Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh, has said "No" to a demand from Hanoi People's Committee asking for the transfer of the Redemptorists out of the capital. In a response letter to the committee, Fr. Vincent Nguyen has defended the religious involved, stating that they "have not done anything against current Church Canon Law."

"I have no rights to transfer my brothers who have done nothing wrong," Fr. Vincent Nguyen stated. "Furthermore, in this case, they even have carried out greatly their pastoral duties. They have devoted themselves to their priesthood. They have stood on the side of the poor and those who have suffered injustice."

In response to a series of accusations from chairman Nguyen The Thao of the committee, Fr. Vincent Nguyen insisted that his brothers in Christ "did not say anything wrong. They simply told the truth."

During an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA), in response to the concern that the refusal from Church leaders would cause more tension on the Church-state relation, thus would trigger even more government crackdowns, Fr. Vincent Nguyen said he did not believe submitting to any demands from a flip-flop government could help improve Church-state relation.

"The Church-state relation depends on many factors, the way the government treats people, its religion policy, the land law... lots of them," he said, calling for sincere dialogue and self-restraint from government officials.

On Dec. 12, Thao sent a letter to Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, president of the Vietnam Conference of Catholic Bishops, and to Fr. Vincent Nguyen in which he demanded Vietnam bishops and the Redemptorist provincial superior to "educate, and immediately transfer out of the capital area” Fr Mathew Vu Khoi Phung, the superior of Hanoi Monastery; Fr Peter Nguyen Van Khai, Fr Joseph Nguyen Van That and Fr. John Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong.

Thao considered the transfer as "a required condition to improve state-Church relation."

Four days before, on Dec 8, 2008, he had tried eight Thai Ha parishioners after a series of harassment against them, including the imprisonment against two of them for months. While he described the trial as "fair and conforming to the law", the Redemptorists called it "a court of the devils and darkness."

Thao had reacted angrily to the comment, accusing Hanoi Redemptorists of "smearing the justice system in Vietnam" also "insulting and ridiculing the court."

What happened in Hanoi, Hue, Vinh Long and Saigon have caused great concerns among Catholics. Attacks against them seem to have no end. From Hanoi, Fr. Joseph Nguyen warned: "The Church needs to prepare for more persecutions. Reading carefully the letter Thao sent to Vietnam Bishops and Fr. Vincent, one can see that Thao himself, did not actually expect the transfer as he had stated. He expected and truly wanted the Church leaders to say no."

When asked to elaborate, Fr Vincent said: "The language of the letter was so offensive, and so demanding. It also purposely irritated readers by having all the word 'god' typed in small case. It was not in tune with the claimed intention."

"What Thao really wants now is a good excuse for administratively coercive measures. Please pray for the Church in Vietnam as the thick, cloud is hovering upon us. Christmas draws near, but I feel as if we are still at the Golgotha on the Good Friday," he concluded.