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Vietnamese priest's alleged killer 'not insane'

Prelate gives more details about the killing of Dominican Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh

Vietnamese priest's alleged killer 'not insane'

Bishop Aloisius Nguyen Hung Vi, priests, religious and people pray in front of the coffin of the late Dominican Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh at Pleidon chapel in Kontum diocese on Jan. 30. (Photo courtesy of giaophankontum.com)

Published: February 07, 2022 06:38 AM GMT

Updated: February 07, 2022 11:29 AM GMT

The alleged killer of a Vietnamese Dominican priest late last month is not insane in the real sense of the word, according to Bishop Aloisius Nguyen Hung Vi of Kontum.

Nguyen Van Kien is accused of stabbing Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh while he was in the confessional on Jan. 29, in  Sa Loong sub-parish of Kontum diocese. The priest later died of severe head wounds.

“From the information obtained from his parents, Kien is not insane in the usual sense … he is lethargic and does not practice faith," the bishop said in an open letter circulated in the diocese.

“Kien is from a Catholic family. His parents are kind and devout. He has two brothers and one sister, and his sister stays at a Church-run hostel."

The tragedy happened just ahead of the three-day Tet festival, marking the start of the Year of the Tiger.

On the first day of the lunar New Year on Feb. 1, Father Simon Phan Van Binh from the Bishop's House and Father John Baptist Do Thanh Tung, pastor of Dak Mot parish, visited Sa Loong and joined people in praying for the dead priest. The Sa Loong sub-parish comes under Dak Mot parish.

The bishop’s said his letter was meant to clear some confusion and misunderstanding surrounding this tragic incident.

Kien could work on farms and repair motorbikes and other things. He would also sometimes get mad, mess around, loudly curse other people, smash television sets — even the altar in his house — and even beat his family members.

He was also paranoid about being bullied and prevented from getting married, the bishop added.

“We hope the confusion surrounding this painful event will soon be brought to light,’ the bishop said hinting at rumors about what prompted Kien to attack the priest.

“At any rate, the blood of the innocent was shed! In the face of this significant loss, as believers, in addition to praying for Father Joseph Thanh, giving consolation and support to his family and the Dominicans who are serving in our Kon Tum mission field, and Sa Loong sub-parish, we are called to give witness to love and forgiveness,” the bishop said.

“May violence be far away so that love and unity become more complete, and as the psalm says 'love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other'."

He also said Sa Loong sub-parish was taking steps to become a full parish and that a fundraising campaign was underway to build a new church.

The bishop also announced the appointment of Father Joseph Thanh to the sub-parish.

“As a very young priest, Father Joseph Thanh is known as a soft-spoken, gentle and likable man,” the letter said.

It also thanked all priests, religious and laypeople, who managed to pay their last respects, share and offer prayers to the late priest at the Dominican monastery.

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