Popular Vietnamese priest excommunicated
Angry churchgoers protest at diocese's decision
Picture: National Catholic Reporter
- Joachim Pham for National Catholic Reporter
- June 19, 2014
A diocese in southern Vietnam has excommunicated a young priest who was accused of teaching false beliefs against the Catholic faith.
“Fr. Peter Nguyen Van Tuong is excommunicated latae sententiae, or sentence already issued,” Fr. Peter Duong Van Thanh, apostolic administrator of Vinh Long Diocese, announced.
Thanh accused Tuong of “preaching false beliefs against the Catholic church doctrine” and “being too stubborn to change his incorrect stance.”
Tuong, pastor of Thanh Thoi Parish in Ben Tre Province, was also asked to move to a house for local retired priests in neighboring Vinh Long City. Local Catholics are also banned from attending liturgical services conducted by him.
Thanh also said the diocese rejects any statements made by the excommunicated priest in the media. The announcement dated on May 23 was posted on the diocese website.
However, on May 18, six other local priests had visited parishioners and read a letter signed by Thanh. The letter said Thanh decided to make Tuong temporarily stop his ministries and move to the house for retired priests for his “health problems” as soon as the end of May.
The excommunicated Tuong told his parish congregation: “I am not sick. Why am I asked to retire? I have not done anything wrong.”
His supporters angrily opposed the letter and accused the visiting priests of “slandering Fr. Tuong since he is in good health.” They also asked the priests to sit down and listen to their opinions, but the priests left without doing so.
“Why dare you not listen to us?” the parishioners asked. “Why do you not reshuffle those priests who have relationships with women or use money donated by the people to give to their women?” a woman parishioner shouted.
Tuong has a strong devotion to and ministry of Divine Mercy, which is based on the writings of Polish St. Faustina Kowalska, who received revelations about God's mercy. St. Pope John Paul II established Divine Mercy Sunday as the Second Sunday of the Easter season.
The excommunicated priest used to celebrate Divine Mercy ceremonies on Saturdays that drew thousands of people, including followers of other faiths. He has posted videos of all his homilies and ceremonies on his website.
During a Mass on May 24, Tuong told parishioners, “This is the last Mass I celebrate in my priestly life. Tomorrow I will move to my own house to rest and to care for my old mother."
Source: National Catholic Reporter