Search

 

Cablegate: Vietnam's Catholic Co-Redemptrix Order

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


2001HOCHI00754 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ9781

PAGE 01 HO CHI 00754 01 OF 02 200231Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 INL-00
DINT-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 EUR-00 OIGO-00
FAAE-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00
L-00 MOFM-05 MOF-03 NSAE-00 OIC-02 OPIC-01 PRS-00
P-00 SP-00 SS-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00
DSCC-00 PRM-01 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /015W
------------------FB04AA 200231Z /38
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5204
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI
AMEMBASSY VATICAN
AMCONSUL HONG KONG
USMISSION GENEVA
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
JICPAC HONOLULU HI
SECDEF WASHDC
DIA WASHDC
NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000754

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EAP/PD/JMARTIN
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR DRL/IRF
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HO CHI 00754 01 OF 02 200231Z
STATE ALSO FOR INR/EAP/SEA AND INR/IL/B
CINCPAC FOR FPA
SECDEF FOR ISA/EA/LSTERN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KIRF PINR VM RELFREE HUMANR
SUBJECT: VIETNAM'S CATHOLIC CO-REDEMPTRIX ORDER

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: ON MAY 23, POLOFF VISITED WITH
PRIESTS OF THE VIETNAMESE CATHOLIC ORDER OF CO-
REDEMPTION IN HCMC. ALTHOUGH ONLY TWO OF ITS MEMBERS
ARE CURRENTLY IN PRISON, THE ORDER HAS BEEN AMONG THE
MOST PERSECUTED OF VIETNAM'S RELIGIOUS GROUPS SINCE
1975. IT STILL OPERATES AN "UNDERGROUND SEMINARY" IN
HCMC. UNTIL NOW, INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO POST ABOUT
THE ORDER HAD ALL BEEN SECOND-HAND. THE VISIT PROVIDED
USEFUL FIRST-HAND BACKGROUND ON THIS RELIGIOUS ORDER'S
HISTORY OF PROBLEMS WITH THE GOVERNMENT. END SUMMARY.

ORIGINS OF THE CO-REDEMPTRIX ORDER
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) POLOFF AND CONGEN INTERPRETER VISITED THE
CATHOLIC ORDER OF CO-REDEMPTION ON MAY 23 IN HCMC'S THU
DUC DISTRICT. AFTER BEING LED TO AN INNER CHAMBER TO
AVOID BEING OVERHEARD BY A PLAINCLOTHES POLICEMAN WHO
ENTERED THE COMPOUND WITHIN A MINUTE OF THEIR ARRIVAL,
THEY MET WITH AN ELDERLY PRIEST WHO WOULD IDENTIFY
HIMSELF ONLY AS "FATHER JOHN." FATHER JOHN, LIKE THE
OTHER CO-REDEMPTRIX PRIESTS, WAS BORN IN BUI CHU
DIOCESE SOUTHEAST OF HANOI. HE WAS AMONG THE 40
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00754 01 OF 02 200231Z
PERSONS TAKEN INTO CUSTODY DURING A POLICE RAID ON THE
ORDER IN 1987. HE, ALONG WITH FATHER TRAN DINH THU
(FOUNDER OF THE ORDER), RECEIVED A 19-YEAR PRISON
SENTENCE, BUT LIKE FATHER THU, HE WAS RELEASED IN 1993
AFTER SERVING SIX AND ONE HALF YEARS.

3. (U) FATHER TRAN DINH THU, BORN IN NORTHERN VIETNAM
IN 1906, FOUNDED THE ORDER OF CO-REDEMPTION IN 1953 IN
BUI CHU DIOCESE. FATHER JOHN SAID THAT IN THE EARLY
1950'S "A STATE OF WAR" EXISTED BETWEEN THE COMMUNISTS
AND THE CATHOLIC DIOCESES OF BUI CHU AND NEIGHBORING
PHAT DIEM. FATHER THU ESTABLISHED THE ORDER NOT TO
ENGAGE IN THE ARMED FIGHTING, ACCORDING TO FATHER JOHN,
BUT ONLY TO EVANGELIZE AMONG THE NON-CHRISTIANS IN THE
NORTH.

4. (SBU) FATHER THU, FATHER JOHN AND THE OTHER CO-
REDEMPTRIX PRIESTS WERE AMONG THE MORE THAN 600
CATHOLIC PRIESTS WHO JOINED THE EXODUS OF NEARLY ONE
MILLION PEOPLE (MOSTLY CATHOLICS) WHO ESCAPED TO THE
SOUTH IN 1954 AHEAD OF PARTITION. THEY ESTABLISHED A
15-ACRE HEADQUARTERS AND SEMINARY IN THE THU DUC
DISTRICT OF PRESENT-DAY HCMC, AND GRADUALLY EXPANDED
THEIR MISSION TO THE MEKONG DELTA AND SOUTH CENTRAL
VIETNAM. FATHER JOHN SAID THAT EVEN NOW, ALL OF THE CO-
REDEMPTRIX PRIESTS ORIGINALLY ARE FROM THE BUI CHU
DIOCESE; POLOFF NOTICED THAT EVERYONE HE HEARD ON THE
GROUNDS ON MAY 23 SPOKE WITH A NORTH VIETNAMESE ACCENT.

POSTWAR PROBLEMS
----------------
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 00754 01 OF 02 200231Z

5. (SBU) AFTER APRIL 30, 1975, SOME 60 MEMBERS OF THE
ORDER WERE ARRESTED, INCLUDING THE FOUNDER, FATHER THU.
MOST OF THOSE ARRESTED, INCLUDING FATHER THU, WERE
RELEASED IN 1977. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, THE GOVERNMENT
CONFISCATED THE ORDER'S PROPERTIES IN THE SOUTH OF
VIETNAM - SCHOOLS, ORPHANAGES, RELIGIOUS TRAINING
CENTERS - EXCEPT FOR THE 15-ACRE SITE AT THU DUC.

6. (SBU) ON MAY 15, 1987, VIETNAMESE SECURITY FORCES
SURROUNDED THE ORDER'S 15-ACRE COMPLEX AND ARRESTED 40
PRIESTS AND LAYPERSONS, INCLUDING FATHER THU AND FATHER
JOHN. THEY CLOSED THE MONASTERY AT THE SITE AND
CONFISCATED THE PROPERTY. FATHER THU AND FATHER JOHN
RECEIVED 19-YEAR PRISON SENTENCES, BUT WERE RELEASED IN
1993 AFTER SERVING SIX AND ONE HALF YEARS. ALL BUT TWO
OF THE OTHERS ARRESTED IN 1987 ALSO HAVE SINCE BEEN
RELEASED. THE TWO WHO REMAIN IN PRISON ARE FATHER PHAM
MINH TRI AND LAYPERSON NGUYEN THIEN PHUNG INCARCERATED
AT Z30A PRISON AT XUAN LOC IN DONG NAI PROVINCE.
FATHER JOHN SAID SIXTY-YEAR OLD FATHER TRI HAS BEEN
SUFFERING NERVOUS/MENTAL PROBLEMS FOR THE PAST FIVE
YEARS AS A RESULT OF HIS IMPRISONMENT.


7. (SBU) THE ORDER'S SCHOOL BUILDINGS AT THE 15-ACRE
SITE HAVE NOW BEEN TURNED INTO A GOVERNMENT SCHOOL.
SOME OF THE OTHER BUILDINGS ON THE SITE HAVE BEEN
TURNED INTO A TEXTILE FACTORY. THIRTEEN PRIESTS AND 30
LAYPERSONS NOW LIVE AT THE SITE NEAR THE OLD
HEADQUARTERS ON PROPERTY DONATED TO THEM BY A CATHOLIC
LAYMAN. FATHER JOHN SAID THERE WERE 300 TO 400 OTHER
"UNOFFICIAL RESIDENTS" AT THIS SITE. THEN HE WHISPERED
IN ENGLISH THAT THE ORDER STILL OPERATES AN
"UNDERGROUND SEMINARY" THERE.

8. (SBU) FATHER JOHN SAID POLICE USED TO COME INTO THE
COMPOUND THREE OR FOUR TIMES A MONTH TO "HARASS THE
RESIDENTS." BUT BEGINNING ABOUT THREE YEARS AGO, AFTER
THE INVESTITURE OF FATHER PHAM MINH MAN AS ARCHBISHOP
OF HCMC ARCHDIOCESE, THEY HAVE EASED UP AND NOW ENTER
ONLY OCCASIONALLY. FATHER JOHN NOTED, HOWEVER, THAT
THE DISTRICT POLICE STATION IS "CONVENIENTLY LOCATED"
JUST DOWN THE STREET FROM THE ENTRANCE TO THE COMPOUND.

FATHER THU AND CARTHAGE, MISSOURI
---------------------------------
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00754 02 OF 02 200231Z

9. (SBU) POLOFF HAD REQUESTED TO MEET WITH THE ORDER'S
95-YEAR-OLD FOUNDER, FATHER TRAN DINH THU, BUT WAS TOLD
ON ARRIVAL THAT FATHER THU WAS "TOO TIRED" TO MEET. ON
DEPARTURE, HOWEVER, FATHER JOHN BROUGHT POLOFF INTO
ANOTHER ROOM WHERE FATHER THU WAS TALKING WITH SEVERAL
PRIESTS AND NUNS. ALTHOUGH HE APPEARED EXTREMELY
FRAIL, FATHER THU DID NOT SEEM ALL THAT TIRED. IN
THEIR TWO-MINUTE CONVERSATION, FATHER THU NOTED THAT
THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME HE HAD EVER HAD AN OPPORTUNITY
TO WELCOME A WESTERN VISITOR TO HIS CHAMBERS.

10. (SBU) BUT THE CO-REDEMPTRIX ORDER DOES HAVE WESTERN
CONNECTIONS. FATHER JOHN STATED THAT THE ORDER HAD
ESTABLISHED A RELATIONSHIP WITH A CATHOLIC PARISH IN
CARTHAGE, MISSOURI. DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF AUGUST
EVERY YEAR, THE CHURCH IN CARTHAGE WELCOMES THOUSANDS
OF VIETNAMESE-AMERICAN CATHOLICS WHO COME THERE TO PRAY
IN FRONT OF A STATUE OF MARY THAT WAS FASHIONED IN AND
IMPORTED FROM FATIMA IN PORTUGAL. (NOTE: VIETNAMESE
CATHOLICS IN VIETNAM MAKE A SIMILAR PILGRIMAGE IN THE
FIRST WEEK OF AUGUST TO A CHURCH IN LA VANG IN CENTRAL
VIETNAM AT THE SITE WHERE MARY IS SAID TO HAVE APPEARED
200 YEARS AGO. END NOTE.)

COMMENT
-------

11. (U) WITH ONLY A FOUR-YEAR DIPLOMATIC PRESENCE IN
HCMC AFTER A MORE THAN 20-YEAR ABSENCE, CONGEN
PERSONNEL STILL HAVE MUCH TO LEARN ABOUT VIETNAM'S
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 00754 02 OF 02 200231Z
POSTWAR YEARS. POST CONTINUES TO SEEK OUT AND MEET
HISTORICAL FIGURES SINCE THE PAST IN VIETNAM CONTINUES
TO HAUNT EVERY ASPECT OF THE PRESENT, AND THE
HISTORICAL LEGACIES OFTEN HOLD KEYS TO BETTER
UNDERSTANDING OF THE MORE CURRENT ISSUES.

RAY

UNCLASSIFIED

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

UN Report: Civilian Casualties Surged After Peace Talks Began In Afghanistan

Monitoring by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, and the UN Human Rights Office has revealed that despite a drop in civilians killed and injured overall in 2020 there was a rise in civilian casualties following the start of peace negotiations ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs


2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>


Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at webtv.un.org UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>

WeBeliev: Scoop In Conversation With Abhishek Sinha, Founder Of WeBeliev, An NZ Crowdfunding Platform

WeBeliev supports 17 SDGs, launching sector specific campaigns every month Q. What is WeBeliev and why did you start it? A. WeBeliev is a Singapore-registered crowdfunding platform aimed at fundraising for all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ... More>>