Updated: November 29, -0001 04:34 PM GMT
Two bishops have petitioned Vietnamese government authorities to return properties that it had “borrowed” from religious sisters in a southern province. The petition is signed by Bishops Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, head of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Vietnam Bishops’ Conference, and Stephanus Tri Buu Thien of Can Tho. Local Sisters of Providence nuns have papers showing full legal ownership since 1876 of a plot of 3,200 square meters of land and convent buildings, according to the petition which was published on the local bishops’ conference’s website on Dec. 30, 2010. Nuns previously lived in the convent and provided accommodation to orphans and poor students at the property which is located in Soc Trang City. According to the bishops, the local government borrowed the property in 1976 and began to use five buildings as an elementary school. Those buildings are now in poor condition and have been abandoned by the school. The government also borrowed other buildings which were used for a hospital. The Church leaders noted that the nuns, who lack accommodation and worship places, have now petitioned the local government to return school buildings. However, in February 2010 the People’s Committee of Soc Trang province rejected the nuns’ petition saying the buildings and land belong to the state. In October provincial authorities also granted ownership to school officials and informed the nuns that they would demolish the old buildings and build a new school. “The people’s interests are violated and laws are not followed,” the bishops stated in their petition. They also accused the local government of violating land laws by granting ownership of the land to school officials. The bishops said the local government’s action has led to a loss of its prestige. It also resulted in a series of complaints over land disputes throughout the country. The bishops said that the government should objectively re-consider the case and accept the nuns’ suggestion to “give back the old school buildings to the nuns and in return retain the hospital building.” Related reports Catholics jailed over Vietnam land disputeChurch urged to ‘give voice’ to people’s issuesLand laws must change, says Cardinal Man VT12702.1635
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