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Authorities praise Vietnamese bishop

Officials in remote village thank prelate for teaching people to live a good life

Authorities praise Vietnamese bishop
Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh shaking hands with government authorities at the chapel before the Mass reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

April 28, 2011

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Government authorities have questioned the bishop of the central highlands diocese of Kontum after he celebrated Easter Mass for Catholics at a remote village, but the meeting appears to have been amicable and the officials praised the prelate for his message. Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh celebrated the special Mass for local Catholics at a chapel at Son Lang village in K’Bang district of Gia Lai province, watched by officials in plain clothes. “After the Mass, Bishop Oanh and Father Joseph Pham Minh Cong were invited to work with 10 authorities and security officials from the People’s Committee of Son Lang village,” according to a diocesan source. They went to the headquarters of the committee, where security officials praised Bishop Oanh for teaching local people to live a good life, according to a diocesan source. They told the clergymen it was the first time they had seen a Catholic service. Bishop Oanh had petitioned the government to celebrate only Easter Mass and allow him and Father Cong to celebrate services. Bishop Oanh told the officials that priests have never been allowed to provide pastoral activities for local Catholics so he had to hear their confession before the Mass. “Catholics go to confession before receiving the Eucharist. It is like people wash their hands before meals,” the bishop said. Bishop Oanh, who turns 74 on Oct 23, said 20 people who accompanied him were drivers, healthcare workers and others who assist him in Mass as he is old. “You should be happy that urban people come to visit you and local people,” the bishop told the government men. Government authorities thanked Bishop Oanh for explaining meaning of Catholic services that “We never heard before.”

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