Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Vietnam Catholics jailed despite protests
Arrests sparked mass demonstrations
- Mike MacLachlan, London
- November 1, 2013
Two Catholics whose arrest sparked mass protests in Vietnam’s Nghe An province last month have been jailed.
Nguyen Van Hai and Ngo Van Khoi were sentenced to six and seven months respectively for “disturbing public order,” Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said.
The two were arrested on June 27 following an incident on May 22 when Catholics visiting a shrine and attending Mass at a church in Nghi Phuong commune were stopped and searched, apparently by plain clothes police.
The searchers did not show any identification and many in the crowd thought they were robbers. It is thought Nguyen and Ngo argued with the officers. Others say the two were merely scapegoats.
Their arrests brought a petition for their release from Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Vinh diocese and a number of local Catholics.
The district chief promised that they would be freed on September 4. When that failed to happen, several hundred protesters surrounded the district office and were dispersed by military personnel with guns, batons, tear gas and dogs.
Sources in Vietnam told CSW that between 21 and 40 people were hurt when police and troops beat demonstrators with electric batons. Religious icons were also smashed, they said.
After the crackdown Bishop Nguyen appealed on the VietCatholic website for the authorities to “respect people’s dignity and right to religious belief.” He described the attack as “barbaric.”
The sentences “come as a huge disappointment to the Catholic community in Nghe An,” CSW’s chief executive, Mervyn Thomas, said yesterday.
The accused’s relatives were not allowed to attend the three-hour trial on October 23, CSW said. The closed-door trial “is of particular concern,” Thomas commented.