Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang (right) receives Communist Party chief Nguyen Van Nen at the Archbishop’s House in Ho Chi Minh City on Dec. 21. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)
High-ranking government officials have praised Vietnamese Catholics for their great contributions to the Covid-19 fight and returned some former church properties as Christmas gifts during their festive visits.
On Dec. 22, National Assembly chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, accompanied by central and local officials, offered Christmas and New Year flowers and greetings to Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh at the Archbishop’s House in Hue, the capital of Thua Thien Hue province.
State-run Vietnam News Agency reported that Ngan applauded local Catholics’ efforts to work with other people to control the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, address the consequences of natural disasters and care for victims’ lives.
She highly valued local people’s solidarity, which is partly attributed to active contributions made by religious groups.
Vietnam, which is among only a few countries that can call 2020 a success, has gained achievements in socioeconomic development during the year despite great difficulties posed by the coronavirus.
The Southeast Asian country has recorded 1,420 coronavirus infections and 35 deaths.
Ngan also appreciated local church leaders who have encouraged the faithful to obey the laws and provide emergency aid for flood victims.
Severe floods caused by heavy rains and typhoons in October and November hit central provinces and left 249 dead, 57 missing and economic damage costing US$1.3 billion.
Archbishop Linh, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, said local Catholics will cooperate with others to build a society of peace and prosperity as all people wish.
Other high-ranking officials visited and gave Christmas gifts and greetings to the archbishops of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and the bishops of Da Lat, Hung Hoa, Thanh Hoa and Vinh. They also visited local Christians.
During their Christmas visit to Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang on Dec. 21, Ho Chi Minh City’s Communist Party chief Nguyen Van Nen and six other officials returned five former church facilities as their gift to the local Church.
They said they will return two other church facilities in My Hoa Parish after they finish administrative procedures.
Nen said the returning of the facilities “is a share of the city government to the archdiocese to together look after the people’s lives.”
Archbishop Nang said that “the archdiocese is happy to receive these buildings to serve necessary needs of local Catholics.”
The prelate said that after 1975, when the country was reunified under communist rule, the local Church transferred its facilities to the government for educational purposes.
Today the city sees an increasing Catholic population and migrant workers throughout the country and from abroad, so many parishes have no enough facilities to serve them, he said.
Noting that the government has built many good educational centers in new places in recent years, Archbishop Nang hopes to receive other former church facilities in the future.
The government confiscated or borrowed many worship places and all charity, healthcare and educational facilities run by religious groups in the north after 1954 and in the south after 1975. Only a few have been returned to the Church.
Many buildings have been sold, abandoned in poor condition and used for commercial purposes.