The Vietnamese government is returning confiscated Church property to the Church in Vietnam as Christmas gifts to show its gratitude for the contributions Catholics made in combating the coronavirus in the country, Catholic Sentinel reported.
Vietnam is home to 97 million people, and has recorded only 1,420 coronavirus infections and 35 deaths through Dec. 23, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, National Assembly chairwoman, shared her appreciation for Vietnam’s Church leaders who have encouraged the faithful to obey the coronavirus laws and provide emergency aid for flood victims.
Severe floods caused by heavy rains and typhoons in October and November hit central Vietnam, leaving 249 dead, 57 missing and about $1.3 billion in damage.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, said local Catholics are pleased to cooperate with others to build a society of peace and prosperity, according to Catholic Sentinel.
On December 21, the Ho Chi Minh City Communist Party visited the city’s archbishop, Joseph Nguyen Nang. During the visit, the party’s chief, Nguyen Van Nen and six other officials formally returned five former church facilities as a “gift” to the archdiocese.
The party promised to return two other church facilities in My Hoa Parish after completing administrative procedures.
Returning the facilities “is a share of the city government to the archdiocese to together look after the people’s lives,” Nen said.
Archbishop Nang said “the archdiocese is happy to receive these buildings to serve necessary needs of local Catholics.”
The communist government took over church properties in 1975 and repurposed them for education, Archbishop Nang explained.
Now, due to an influx of Catholic migrant workers, Ho Chi Minh City doesn’t have enough facilities to serve the faithful, the archbishop said. Now that the government is building more educational facilities, Archbishop Nang hopes the Catholic Church in Vietnam will receive more of its government-confiscated buildings in the future.
After 1954, the Vietnamese government confiscated many places of worship of various religions, including all charity, healthcare and educational facilities run by religious groups in the north. When the communist regime conquered the south in 1975, it took over religious properties there as well. The government has only returned a few of such properties, while others have been sold, abandoned, or used for commercial purposes.
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