DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     July 31-August 2, 1998     vol. 9, no. 149

from a CATHOLIC perspective

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO


          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- The government of Vietnam, which has offered several recent pledges to respect religious liberty, is showing its true intent by restricting a traditional Catholic pilgrimage, according to the Vatican news agency Fides.

          Fides has noted that in February 1998, a delegation from the Holy See visited Vietnam and negotiated a series of agreements with the Communist government. The Vietnamese prime minister and Communist Party officials promised to allow the appointment of bishops, and to recognize the role of the Catholic Church in addressing "social ills such as drugs, prostitution, and corruption."

          However, the government reserved the right to control activities which might affect "national and social security." And the government is now making the claim that the national pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of La Vang, scheduled for August 13-15, calls for such restrictions.

          The government has now announced that pilgrims from outside Vietnam itself will not be allowed to participate in this year's pilgrimage, which marks the 200th anniversary of a reported apparition of the Virgin Mary at La Vang. Fides reports that police are also trying to persuade Catholics inside Vietnam that they should not participate in the pilgrimage, and tourist agencies are being warned that they should not organize travel plans for the pilgrims. All these restrictions are being attributed to "security reasons."

          Nevertheless, Father Joseph Duong Duc Toai, who is organizing the pilgrimage, expects up to 120,000 participants. The Catholic bishops of Vietnam have continued to encourage pilgrims to join in the celebration, making this event a challenge to the regime. In a January message to the 8 million Catholics of Vietnam, Pope John Paul II also called attention to the importance of the Marian shrine at La Vang in the life of the Church.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

July 31-August 2, 1998       volume 9, no. 149


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