The Vietnamese Church is not linked to any political system

» 10/06/2011 14:34

Open letter from Mons. Paul Nguyên Thai Hop, chairman of the “Commission for Justice and Peace.” The document makes specific reference to an official communication that seems to wish to hold the bishops accountable for the social choices of lay Catholics.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNew) – The Church “in no way is to be confused with the political community and is not linked to any political system,” while “the world, its humanization, and social commitment are considered the domain of the laity” .This is what Mons. Paul Nguyên Thai Hops (pictured) recalled, in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee for Justice and Peace of the Vietnamese episcopacy, in an open letter dated October 4.

The document, fully published by Eglises d’asie, is dedicated mainly to clarifying the role and tasks of the Church – regarding which it cites the Magisterium, from Vatican II onwards – and in particular of the Justice and Peace Commission. This, particularly in reference to an official communication from the authorities of the province of Vinh Nge An to the bishop of Vinh to communicate the arrest, in August, of “a number of Catholic citizens who have violated the law, conducting criminal activities that are opposed to the State”.

The open letter of Mons. Paul Nguyên Thai Hop – diffused while the second annual meeting of the episcopal Conference epicopale is in session, at which there is present also the non-resident papal representative to Vietnam, Mons.Leopoldo Girelli – seems dictated by concern that government authorities are trying to ascribe to the bishops responsibility for the political choices of lay Catholics and, in conequence, to involve the Church in eventual accusations of “anti-State activities”.

Mons. Thai Hop writes that the Commission is concerned with the social doctrine of the Church and “with reference to the social doctrine of the Church, I replied to the letter N ° 5 483 of the People’s Committee of Nghe An province. I am worried and wonder why the Committee brings the issue that ‘A number of Catholic citizens have violated the law, conducting criminal activities that are opposed to the State …’ to the knowledge of the Bishop of Vinh diocese. As Vietnamese citizens, they have the right to make specific choices in the social field. I, myself, and the different bodies of the Diocese of Vinh do not take responsibility for their choices in the civil field”.

The Bishop then hints at the “irritation” and the “questions” that the issue arouses, relating that he has telephoned “a number of institutions, asking them to regulate the issue as soon as possible and to reassure the population. But so far I have not received any reply. I hope that the competent bodies regulate the matter in accordance with Vietnamese laws and international law”.

Mons. Thai Hop, finally reminds the Committee that the Commission for Justice and Peace has the “mission to spread the social doctrine of the Church so that the faithful understand it, living and building a society in conformity with the guidelines of the Church. It is a way of life and a proclamation of the Gospel for our times. It is clear that our commission will issue judgments in function of the social doctrine of the Church and strives to protect justice and human rights.”