Vietnamese blogger arrested for challenging media distortions of Pope’s speech

What will happen in this regard worldwide, I wonder?

From CNA:

Vietnamese blogger arrested for challenging media distortions of Pope’s speech

Hanoi, Vietnam, Sep 1, 2009 / 02:56 am (CNA).- A blogger who was defending the Church against the state media’s distortions of Pope Benedict XVI’s June speech to Vietnamese bishops was arrested on Thursday in what some fear is the first of many arrests. Bui Tanh Hieu is a catechumen who writes under the pen name Nguoi Buon Gio, which means “Wind Trader.” Reuters reported that he was arrested by police in Hanoi on August 27 and has not been heard from since.

Redemptorist Father Peter Nguyen Van Khai of Hanoi monastery confirmed to Asia News that the blogger was detained on Thursday. The priest described him as a catechumen of the Archdiocese of Hanoi who is studying the catechism in preparation for baptism.

Sr. Emily Nguyen from the Diocese of Vinh warned that his arrest “certainly is not the last one.

Many Catholic bloggers have criticized the ‘shameful distortion’ by state media against Pope Benedict XVI’s speech to Vietnamese bishops on their ad limina visit. They are at possible risk of arrest,” Sr. Nguyen said, according to Fr. J.B. An Dang.

On August 24 the state media outlet Vietnam Net published an article titled “A good Catholic is a good citizen.” In that piece it quoted several phrases from Pope Benedict’s June 27 speech to visiting Vietnamese bishops.

Perhaps the most serious distortion of the article was its abuse of the Pope’s statement that the Church’s intention is “certainly not to replace government leaders,” Fr. An Dang said. This phrase was interpreted as evidence the Vatican had advance knowledge of a plot of Catholic priests to overthrow the government. The article called on all Vietnamese bishops to identify such attempts at once.

“The next day, television channels, radio stations, and newspapers re-broadcast the article with great emphasis and calls for urgent arrests and punishments against some Catholic priests in Thai Ha and Vinh diocese,” Sr. Emily Nguyen reported.

Another of Pope Benedict’s phrases, about how it is possible to have a “healthy collaboration” between the Church and the political community, was used to accuse Vietnamese church leaders of not following a policy of peaceful dialogue with the government and of maintaining a hostile attitude.

The Vietnam Net article also tried to interpret “healthy collaboration” as the submission of Catholics to the Communist government.

Fr. An Dang told CNA that church leaders have in fact been “very patient” in seeking peaceful dialogue with the government.

“The government has refused any dialogue,” he charged, noting that in Dong Hoi the government has allowed police and groups of thugs to roam the streets and attack those who wear visible Catholic symbols.

The recent Vietnam Net article also misused the Pope’s statement to paint a “somber picture” of the Vietnamese Church in which priests have no deep inner life and have not striven for holiness, while laymen have not been charitable, honest, or good citizens.

It tries to make its readers to understand that Pope Benedict XVI himself had insulted the Church in Vietnam for its spiritual corruption,” Fr. Joseph Nguyen of Hanoi explained.

“It has cast shadows of sadness among Catholics,” he lamented. “We all know that His Holiness Benedict XVI did not mean that.”

According to Fr. An Dang, the distortion of the Pope’s statement has caused doubt and frustration among Catholics throughout Vietnam and abroad.

Catholics have also reacted to the distorted report through internet blogs, a unique way to express opinion because all other public media are under state control.

Some bloggers have simply presented the Vietnamese translation of Pope Benedict’s speech. [What did Pope Benedict REALLY say?  This is why WDTPRS was a serious lobby during the lead up to the new translation of the Roman Missal.] Others have argued that the Church would not require her faithful to obey without question governments which promote injustices and policies that violate Church teaching.

"Surely, no Catholics should follow the policy of Population Control through Abortion as Family Planning. Rather they should condemn it," blogger An Dan wrote.

Some bloggers have even argued that a government has just power only if that power has been bestowed by the people. Communists took control of the government by violent force and no democratic elections have been held.

Vietnamese authorities’ reactions indicate a readiness to take extreme steps to silence dissent, Fr. An Dang told CNA.

The Vietnamese state media have previously distorted Catholic leaders’ statements. In September 2008 the news media misrepresented a statement by the Archbishop of Hanoi about the difficulties of carrying a Vietnamese passport to make it appear he had insulted Vietnam.

The day after the report, government-supporting thugs attacked a Marian Shrine at Thai Ha parish. Concerns about security confined the archbishop to his residence and canceled or delayed his normal activities.

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  1. The Church in Vietnam has been struggling for many decades. It has flown under the radar for a long time because of the vicious persecutions that have taken place in the country against Catholics. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Catholics were routinely persecuted there because it was believed that they were in league with the French colonial government.

    Coming from a Communist country, I don’t really see such suppression and persecution as anything new. Communists will view anything that goes against their ideas to be a counter revolutionary threat. The Catholic CHurch is one of those threats.

    In China, the government-run Catholic Church is essentially a puppet of the state and does not recognize Rome while the underground Church has been struggling for years against virulent persecution.

    As countless Popes have warned, Communism is evil and the above article illustrates why.

  2. Konichiwa says:

    Thank you for giving this news attention Father Z! I pray that we may have saints and martyrs come out of this persecution.

    Just as one bad apple spoils the bunch, the corruption of the VN government spoils its own people. God bless these bloggers for speaking up for what is right. Many just go with the flow. I think only by the blood of Christ through his faithful children, could a purification of mind and hearts occur in this land.

    It’s funny they claim that those who carry VN passports are hassled. It is the Vietnamese who carry US passports who should be complaining. We’re supposed to stick a 5 or 10 dollar bill in our passport or hand it to the guy that checks our luggage at the X-ray machine. I was fined 50USD by a nobody at the airport for bringing “unapproved items”.

  3. Bill in Texas says:

    I am biased. I’m a Viet Nam war vet who entered the service in 1964, and I have never regretted that fact.

    But this is one more example why we should never have given up on our efforts to ensure a free Viet Nam. Now we are about to repeat that mistake in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

    Please don’t bother to thank me and the vets from the wars in Korea, Viet Nam, or the Middle East for our service. Our nation’s gutless slide into oblivion more than adequately demonstrates what a meaningless phrase “Thank you for your service” is when uttered by most Americans.

    I’m not bitter. If I were 18 again, I’d still serve. I’m just very, very saddened and disappointed at what is happening in this country.

  4. albizzi says:

    The good worldly leftists consciences (including the post VATII modernist-progressivist catholics ) are satisfied long ago: They struggled against the Frenchies when they ruled the former Indochine until the disaster of Dien Bien Phu, they helped the US to chase away and replace them as the new colonial power. And then they pushed hard to chase the US until the country was reunited under the communist dictature. Now all is OK. Why to worry since the Vietnam is FREEEEEE?
    Our catholic brothers are jailed, tortured, beaten? That’s only imperialist propaganda, isn’t it?
    Nobody cares since they are truly convinced that the Vietnamese people freely chose its fate. Did you ever hear any priest calling to pray in an homily for the Vietnamese catholics? That would be politically incorrect.

  5. Konichiwa says:

    A minor spelling error. The blogger’s name is Bùi Thanh Hi?u. The “h” is left out of the name above.

  6. Hans says:

    “The Vietnam Net article also tried to interpret “healthy collaboration” as the submission of Catholics to the Communist government.

    I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising. After all, “dialogue” with certain government officials in the U.S. is clearly intended to mean ‘listen to me say nice things to you, while I do just the opposite in practice.’ And there are those who will tell us that the best way for the Church to interact with modern society is for her to take up the world’s corrupted values, that the bishops should behave like modern politicians and blow with the winds of change.

  7. Timbot2000 says:

    Problem is folks, the atheist government of Republican France did the Church no favors in Vietnam, seeing it, at best as a tool of social control, not unlike the Communists really. Bombing people is a really lousy way to turn them into Catholics anyway. And “democracy” is WAAAY overrated as a Christianity-friendly environment. Case in point, Japan, where the native Catholic population is SMALLER now than it was before the war, and where the government exercises what Karel Van Wolferen very astutely called “soft totalitarianism” to completely neuter the Church in the social sphere, far more effectively really than in either China or Vietnam. (Think the abortion numbers are bad in China and Vietnam? Fuggetaboutit! Pound for pound they are pikers compared to the Japanese, where abortion is the leading form of birth control (The Japan Society of Obstetrics lobbied successfully for years to block hormonal contraceptives, but not for any good reasons but rather to keep their abortion gravy train rolling. Even today teh hormonal contraceptives available in Japan are relatively primitive, again the ensure a steady stream of income for Japanese OB/GYNs)

  8. albizzi says:

    France atheist governments never were able to prevent the Catholic missions in Vietnam like in other French colonies. On the contrary, the numerous Catholic vietnamese Church currently in Vietnam is almost completely the fruit of the French priests and nuns who sowed the Faith here often at their life’s price for almost one century. Many were martyred.
    The sadness in this country’s story is that a number of vietnamese catholics thought that their faith was compatible with communism, this partially due to the false promises the communist liars made them, encouraged by a lot of the post VATII modernist clerics.

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