Vietnam Christians hope for religious freedom * Bangladesh teachers angry over books

January 7, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

FreedomVietnam, January 04, 2012: The past year has witnessed a marked improvement in relations between the Holy See and the Vietnamese government, while rejuvenating religious activity among local Catholics.

More than anything else, the presence of papal nuncio Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli has led many Catholics in the country to hope for greater religious freedom in the future.

Pope Benedict XVI named the archbishop as nuncio on January 13 – the first Vatican representative to visit the country since Apostolic Delegate Archbishop Henri Lemaitre was forced to leave in 1975.

Archbishop Girelli, who is based in Singapore, made five pastoral visits to Vietnam’s 26 dioceses between April and December last year. At each location, the nuncio was warmly welcomed by thousands of Catholics and briefed about Church activities.

The nuncio’s visits were preceded in early January by that of Cardinal Ivan Dias, then prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who attended the closing ceremony of the Jubilee Year 2010 at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang on January 5 last year.

“I believe that religious freedom will be ensured and local religious organizations and people, regardless of their faiths, will have favorable conditions to publicly express and practice their faiths,” the cardinal said during an address to about 100,000.

The local Church has also seen some progress in reacquiring previously seized land from the government.

Plans have moved forward for the construction of a new basilica and other facilities to serve pilgrims at the La Vang shrine following the government’s return of some 130,000 sq m of land confiscated in 1975.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam also launched the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace in May.

Dominican Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, who heads the commission, said it aims to “build a society based on human values, dignity and vocations of people in the country.”

Cardinal Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City has said that relations between the local Church and the government have seen some progress, as witnessed by the establishment of new Church commissions, a small increase in pastoral activities and the lifting of requirements for government permission for some religious activities.

He added, however, that challenges remain as local religious organizations continue to be banned from running educational centers and hospitals. Cardinal Man petitioned the government in May to “amend its legal system and return equality to local religions.”

– crib

Bangladesh teachers angry over books


BookBangladesh, January 04, 2012: Millions of schoolchildren across Bangladesh have started the New Year with brand new textbooks, but Catholic teachers are complaining they have yet to receive books on religion.

The education ministry in an initiative called the ‘Textbook Distribution Festival’ supplied millions of new to primary and secondary level students in January.

However, teachers in Church-run schools have been left wondering where the books they ordered from the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) are.

“We have not received a single Christian book yet. Last year we didn’t get the books we asked for,” said Hilarius Rozario, 60, headmaster of St Joseph’s primary school in the northern district of Natore.

“We are about to resume classes, and I don’t how we can without the books we need,” he added.

He said there are irregularities every year and nothing is being done to address the problem.

“If we ask for 50 books, we only get five. We have talked to officials again and again but to no avail.”

Father Martin Mondol, 46, headmaster of St Paul’s high school in the south west coastal city of Mongla told the same story.

“We never get Christian books on time. This year we’ve got all the other books we need, but not on Christianity,” said the priest.

“We want the government to look at the problem and solve it,” he added.

The NCTB said they were unaware of any problems regarding book distribution.

“We send books to every district according to list submitted from the schools. We have received There is no complaints so far. However, if there are problems we will take proper measures,” said Mehbuba Khanam, an NCTB spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the education ministry has formed a five-member committee to investigate alleged anomalies in book distribution reported by local media.

The Catholic Church in Bangladesh runs 288 schools and colleges with 55 schools and four colleges in Dhaka archdiocese alone.

– ucan

Enter Google AdSense Code Here

Comments are closed.