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Ho Chi Minh photograph replaces cross

VIETNAM (UCAN): Government authorities from a district in the Central Highlands of Vietnam compelled ethnic villagers to remove Catholic images and religious symbols from their chapel and replaced them with portraits of communist revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, during the second week of August.

The chapel is in Dak Pnan village, whose inhabitants suffer from Hansen’s disease.

A Church source said, “After local Catholics finished prayers in the chapel on Sunday morning (August 5), local government authorities came and asked them to remove a cross and a Marian image.” 

The source added that authorities from Kon Thuc hamlet, led by two security officials from Mang Yang district in Gia Lai province, threatened their community leader with imprisonment if the villagers did not remove the religious symbols from the chapel.

UCA News was told that the authorities then replaced the cross and Marian picture with two photos of Ho Chi Minh.

The next day, authorities removed the chapel bell, which was taken to the community leader’s house, along with the cross, the Marian image, altar and tabernacle.

One community leader said authorities told parishioners that the building was to be used “for village activities, not for worship.” 

Locals said the building, sponsored by a France-based charity organisation, was built in 1999 for villagers to worship in and hold their common activities.

Priests from other places have been paying visits and providing pastoral services for villagers since 2007. 

On August 13, Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh, from Kon Tum, visited and encouraged the villagers to live out their faith bravely and work for the common good. He has not yet made any response to the recent events.

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