Vietnamese diocese under pressure, takes Fatima message to heart

Half-a-million Catholics pray for world peace and freedom to practice religion without state intimidation
Vietnamese diocese under pressure, takes Fatima message to heart

Vietnamese Catholics attend the feast of Assumption outside a cathedral in Nghe An province on Aug. 15. (Photo by Hong Son Lam Giang) reporter, Vinh
September 28, 2017
In the face of growing state harassment, a diocese in northern Vietnam has launched a campaign to honor the message of Fatima, reciting the Rosary and praying for worldwide peace.

Local Catholics in Vinh Diocese have begun reflecting on the message of Fatima and reciting the Rosary since Sept. 25 when the campaign was launched.  

For the next month, Father Anthony Nguyen Van Dinh, head of Vinh Diocese's Committee for Justice and Peace, said parish priests will teach Catholics the message of Fatima and St. Pope John Paul's Apostolic Letter the Rosary of the Virgin Mary.

Father Dinh said the general message of Fatima ­— to amend one's lives, recite the Rosary daily and show devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary — aims to obtain peace for the world and an end war.

The priest said that local parishes and congregations will have daily Rosary sessions at their churches. Families have also been asked to arrange convenient times for them to recite the Rosary.

Local priests have been asked to celebrate Masses and pray for peace on Oct. 13, marking Blessed Mother Mary's last apparition at Fatima.

"We Christians should practice the message of Fatima, especially recite the Rosary diligently to bring real peace to the world, assist the nation escape from great calamities, and help people live in justice and freedom," said Father Dinh.

The priest said the challenges that Vietnam currently faces are many and Catholics need to pray to help resolve them.  

Among the challenges, Father Dinh said, were environmental pollution, moral decline and a rudderless education system.

The country also faces high rates of abortion, uncontrolled corruption, and ruffian violence that seems to be abetted by the government to oppress religious groups, he said.

The campaign to recite the Rosary has been made while Catholics in the province are under pressure from the communist authorities.

Seven priests from Dong Thap deanery in Nghe An province have petitioned local authorities to punish police-backed thugs who threw stones at the homes of some local Catholics, damaging their properties. They also broke Marian statues during September. Government associations also raised national flags and banners and caused disorder around Dong Kieu Church. They also unsuccessfully sought to remove the church's priest from the area.

Locals of the diocese covering three provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh remain unable to eat seafood caught off their coast which was polluted by a toxic waste discharged by a Taiwanese-owned Formosa unit based in Ha Tinh province last year.

Father Dinh said that the diocese's 535,000 local Catholics will recite the Rosary with such local challenges in mind.

This year the Catholic Church marks the 100th anniversary of Apparitions Our Lady of Fatima in 1917. The Blessed Mother Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917 and told them three prophecies: of hell, the consecration of Russia and the death of a pope and other religious figures.

The second prophecy is widely believed to relate to the Second World War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

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