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Officials bar Vatican delegation

Delegation was to visit for interviews in beatification of late Cardinal

Father Peter Nguyen Huu Giai Father Peter Nguyen Huu Giai
  • ucanews.com Asia Desk, Bangkok
  • Asia
  • March 26, 2012
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A Vatican delegation scheduled to evaluate the cause for beatification of the late Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan has been refused entry to Vietnam.

Father Peter Nguyen Huu Giai, pastor of the An Bang parish of Hue diocese, said the delegation, which planned to interview witnesses in the beatification process from April 1-3, has been denied visas.

“I have been told that the Vatican delegation could not visit the country because they were refused entry visas by the government.”

Fr Giai, 70, and nine other clerics, Religious and laypeople had been assigned to provide testimony to the three delegates from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

He said he believed the refusal of entry visas was the result of sensitivity by government officials over the beatification.

Cardinal Thuan spent 13 years in prison, nine of them in solitary confinement in Hanoi, following his appointment as coadjutor archbishop of Saigon just seven days before South Vietnam fell to the Communist north in 1975.

"For the Communist government this transfer [to coadjutor archibishop], made one week before their arrival in Saigon on 30 April 1975, was proof of a conspiracy between the Vatican and the 'imperialists,'" Cardinal Thuan explained during a religious conference in Los Angeles shortly before his death in 2002.

Cardinal Thuan was the nephew of Ngo Dinh Diem, president of South Vietnam who was assassinated in 1963.

Fr Giai said he has worked hard to prepare for the delegation’s visit and that he was disappointed with the government’s decision, but that he was confident the process would continue.

“I have prepared documents in English and French to present the delegation, but it is regretted that I could not meet them,” he said.

“I look forward with optimism about the cardinal’s beatification process because the Holy See has the right to beatify him [regardless of] the government.”

Church sources in Hue province said two security officials on March 23 visited Jacob Hoang Minh Chau, a lay Catholic scheduled to give testimony to the delegation.

Chau, 87, from Gia Hoi parish, told the officials that he was close to Cardinal Thuan when they were children and that he was a kind man who loved fishing and often shared his catch with those in need, according to the Church sources.

Cardinal Thuan was born in Hue on April 17, 1928. He served as rector of the local minor seminary and vicar general of the archdiocese before being named bishop of Nha Trang diocese in 1967.

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