DAILY CATHOLIC THURSDAY June 25, 1998 vol. 9, no. 123
NEWS & VIEWS
VIETNAMESE BISHOP TO HEAD JUSTICE AND PEACE COUNCIL WHILE VIET COMMUNISTS SAY RESTRICT RELIGION, BUT NO PREJUDICE
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Archbishop Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan has been named the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The Vietnamese prelate had been serving as vice-president of Cor Unum.
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who has been the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has passed the retirement age of 75. (He is now 76.) But finding a replacement was also a high priority because Cardinal Etchegaray heads the central committee for the Grand Jubilee-- a role which has become increasingly demanding as the year 2000 approaches.
Archbishop Van Than was born in Hue in 1928 and ordained to the priesthood in 1953. A bishop since 1967, he had been the coadjutor archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) until 1994, when he was forced into exile by Communist authorities. Since that time he has lived and worked at the Vatican.
Meanwhile, the head of Vietnam's Communist Party said on Tuesday that while he sees a need for restrictions on the practice of religion, there should not be any prejudice by Communists against religious believers.
Le Kha Phieu, general secretary of the Communist Party, said the party has tried to re-educate members against intolerance, but added that it still exists to some degree. "To have either an insufficient understanding of religious followers or to use administrative measures to limit religious activities was unacceptable," Phieu said in a speech given at a party conference on national religious affairs. "Party members have to do away with the customary feeling of distance and prejudice towards those believers and religious dignitaries which limit the strength of greater national unity."
Phieu also warned that religion must take second place to
national interests. "In accordance with that ... we ask
religious organizations to report and register and they
should get state permission for their activities," he said.
He added that believers must be educated to distinguish
between genuine religious expression and the efforts of
political opponents to destabilize the government. Phieu's
rare officials remarks on the controversial subject were
widely reported in official media.
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
NEWS & VIEWS