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Catholics injured in land dispute

Priest hurt, orphanage destroyed by 'gangsters'

April 16, 2012

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Security officials and gangsters have attacked several people including a priest and destroyed a controversial home for orphans in the capital. Catholic sources reported that in the early morning of April 14, a group of gangsters supported by security officials threw stones at the home and broke glass doors, telephones and a Marian altar. They also beat up five children and women. The home is located at Thuy Xuan Tien in Chuong My district. The sources said security officials and district authorities then came to the site and destroyed the home. “Father Joseph Nguyen Van Binh and some local Catholics tried to prevent them from destroying the home and were also severely hurt,” they said. Fr Binh, 38, pastor of Yen Kien parish who built the home, was taken to a state-run hospital for medical treatment and then was sent to Ha Noi Archbishop’s House. Fr Joseph Nguyen Khac Que of Ha Noi said the incident was “unfortunate and the two sides did not resolve it adequately.” Fr Que said the government destroyed the home was since the home was illegally built on a plot of land the parish bought from a resident without ownership papers. “Fr Binh should have finished legal procedures and got ownership papers before building the home,” he explained. Fr Joseph Dao Ba Thuyet, parish priest of Hoang Nguyen, said Fr Binh was wrong to build the home on the land, which is managed by the army. “Such land is not for construction,” he noted. However, Fr Thuyet condemned the government’s violent action. “The government should not have used such violent forces to attack local priests and Catholics. I protest against them,” he said. Fr Binh, who is among 30 local priests who will be transferred to other parishes in the archdiocese tomorrow, will be assigned to Vi Nhue parish in Nam Dinh province. Fr Thuyet also rejected rumors accusing the local Church of transferring priests who struggle with the government for Church properties to remote areas. “Priest reshuffles are normal in the Church,” he noted. He said Fr Binh is recovering from his wounds.
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