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FATHER THADEUS NGUYEN VAN LY

Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Vietnamese Roman Catholic priest and advocate for religious freedom, had spent a lifetime attempting to exercise his right to freedom of expression and freedom of worship.
Father Nguyen Van Ly was ordained as a priest in 1974. He taught at a seminary in Hue, and served as secretary to the then Bishop of Hue Monsignor Philippe Nguyen Kim Dien. Father Nguyen Van Ly distributed copies of Monsignor Dien's statements expressing the Monsignor’s sadness at the arrest of Buddhist monks. The bishop's position was publicly denounced in Công Giao va Dân Tôc, the official newspaper of the Southern Catholic Liaison Committee. A year later, on 14 August 1982, Father Nguyen Van Ly, by this time parish priest of Doc So, in the Hue diocese, accompanied by one other priest and a number of Christian followers, attempted to make the pilgrimage to La Vang. Police blocked the road and forced the pilgrims to return to Hue.

On 20 November 1982, Father Nguyen Van Ly was arraigned before the Binh Tri Thien provincial People's Tribunal, charged with leading an illegal pilgrimage to La Vang. He was convicted, expelled from the Doc So parish and ordered to retire to his native village. Father Nguyen Van Ly refused to do so, insisting he would only leave his parish on the orders of his superior, Monsignor Dien, the Archbishop of Hue. Religious people of both Catholic and Buddhist faiths gathered at the Doc So presbytery and frustrated the attempts of the police to arrest Father Nguyen Van Ly, until 18 May 1983, when around 200 policemen came in the morning and arrested the priest by force. He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment on 13 December1983, and was released in July 1992.
After he was released from prison in July 1992, he was appointed priest at the Nguyen Bieu church, in Thuy Bieu village, Hue Diocese, and continued his ministry there, but did not remain silent on issues that concerned him. In November 1994, he published a ''10 Point Statement on the State of the Catholic Church in the Hue Diocese''. This statement criticised the state's appropriation of church property, the lack of places in seminaries for men to train for the priesthood, and the interference of the state in church teachings.

On 13 February 2001, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom held a meeting on the issue of freedom of religion in Viet Nam, and Father Nguyen Van Ly was invited to address the hearing. He was unable to attend in person, because he could not leave Viet Nam, but he did submit written testimony which was presented to the Commission. Father Ly's testimony was highly critical of the situation in Viet Nam, and stated that ''in the realm of religion, the control of the communist government has stripped all churches of their independence and freedom''. In addition to many pages of highly critical analysis, Father Nguyen Van Ly also advocated that the US Congress should not ratify the long-negotiated US-Viet Nam Bilateral Trade Agreement, because of the lack of respect for human rights and freedom of religion in Viet Nam. Father Ly's testimony was published on the Internet, making it widely available internationally, but unlikely to be seen by the majority of Vietnamese people. The official Vietnamese media quickly criticized the hearing itself, and much of what was said by the various participants.

Father Nguyen Van Ly was arrested early in the morning on 17 May 2001, in his church as he prepared to celebrate mass. A large number of policemen, possibly up to 600, surrounded and then stormed An Truyen church. After the arrest, Father Ly was denied access to legal counsel. On October 19, 2001, the Thua Thien Hue Provincial People's Court convicted Father Ly after a two-hour, closed trial. Father Ly was sentenced to two years in prison for violating the terms of his administrative detention, thirteen years in prison for "damaging the Government's unity policy," and five years of administrative probation upon release from prison. He was never been given access to an attorney.
Vietnamese human rights organizations reported that Father Ly is being held in a small, isolated cell at a hard labor camp in the Nam Ha province. Furthermore, the Government denied Father Ly contact with other prisoners and the Government prohibited guards from speaking with him. The Government severely limited time provided to Father Ly outside his cell, generally denied him the use of pen and paper, except for allowing a monthly correspondence, and refused to give him items brought to him in prison, including Christian books and some food items.

On March 31, 2004, the House International Relations Committee unanimously passed H.Con.Res. 378. On May 11, 2004, the resolution, by now co-sponsored by 107 Members of Congress, was debated in the House of Representatives and passed the Congress on a roll call vote of 424-1. On November 18, 2004, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, wrote a letter to the President of Vietnam urging Father Ly's release.

On January 31, 2005, the Government of Vietnam announced it would release Father Ly from prison as part of a general amnesty to mark Tet, the Lunar New Year and he walked free a short time later.

 
LIVES OF THE SAINTS

MAY 1
ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER
This is St. Joseph's second feast day on the Church calendar of celebrations. We honor him also on March 19. St. Joseph is a very important saint.

MAY 2
ST. ATHANASIUS
St. Athanasius was born around 297 in Alexandria, Egypt. He devoted his life to proving that Jesus is truly God.

MAY 3
ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES
Both of these saints were part of the original group of Jesus' twelve apostles.

MAY 4
BLESSED MARIE-LEONIE PARADIS
Blessed Marie-Elodie Paradis was born in the village of L'Acadie in Quebec, Canada. It was May 12, 1840.

MAY 5
ST. JUDITH OF PRUSSIA

St. Judith lived in the thirteenth century. She was born in Thuringia. This was in what is now central Germany. She wanted to model her life on the example of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

MAY 6
BLESSED FRANCOIS DE MONTMORENCY LAVAL

Blessed Francois was the first bishop of Quebec City, Canada. He was born in 1623 in a small town in France.

MAY 7
BLESSED ROSE VENERINI

Blessed Rose was born in Viterbo, Italy, in 1656. Her father was a physician. Rose entered the convent but returned home after a few months.

MAY 8
BLESSED CATHERINE OF ST. AUGUSTINE

St. Catherine was born on May 3, 1632, in a little village in France. She was baptized the same day.

MAY 9
BLESSED NICHOLAS ALBERGATI

Blessed Nicholas was born in Bologna, Italy. Nicholas' family could afford to send him to the university where he began to study law.

MAY 10
ST. ANTONINUS

St. Antoninus lived in the fifteenth century. Even as a boy he showed that he had good sense and will power.

MAY 11
ST. IGNATIUS OF LACONI

St. Ignatius was the son of a poor farmer in Laconi, Italy. He was born on December 17, 1701.

MAY 12
ST. NEREUS, ST. ACHILLEUS AND ST. PANCRAS

Sts. Nereus and Achilleus were Roman soldiers who died around 304. They were probably Praetorian guards under Emperor Trajan. We know little else about them.

MAY 13
ST. ANDREW FOURNET

St. Andrew Fournet was born on December 6, 1752. He was from Maille, a little town near Poitiers, in France. Andrew's parents were religious people.

MAY 14
ST. MATTHIAS

St. Matthias was one of Our Lord's seventy-two disciples.

MAY 15
ST. ISIDORE THE FARMER

Saint Isidore was born in 1070, in Madrid, Spain. His parents were deeply religious. They named their son after the great St. Isidore, archbishop of Seville, Spain.

MAY 16
ST. UBALD

St. Ubald lived in twelfth-century Italy. He was an orphan raised by his uncle, a bishop. Ubald was given a good education.

MAY 17
ST. PASCHAL BAYLON

St. Paschal, a Spanish saint, was born in 1540. From the time he was seven, he worked as a shepherd. He never had the opportunity to go to school.

MAY 18
ST. JOHN I

St. John I was a priest of Rome. He became pope after the death of Pope St. Hormisdas in 523. At that time, Italy's ruler, Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian.

MAY 19
ST. CELESTINE V

Peter di Morone was the eleventh of twelve children. He was born around 1210 in Isernia, Italy. His father died when he was small.

MAY 20
ST. BERNARDINE OF SIENA

St. Bernardine of Siena was born in 1380 in a town near Siena, Italy. He was the son of an Italian governor.

MAY 21
BLESSED EUGENE DE MAZENOD

Blessed Eugene was born in France in 1782. He became a priest in 1811. Father Eugene was sensitive to the needs of the poor and he ministered to them.

MAY 22
ST. RITA OF CASCIA

St. Rita was born in 1381 in a little Italian village. Her parents were older. They had begged God to send them a child. They brought Rita up well.

MAY 23
ST. JOHN BAPTIST ROSSI

St. John Baptist Rossi was born in 1698 in a village near Genoa, Italy. His family loved him. They were proud when a wealthy couple visiting their town offered to educate him. His parents knew the couple and trusted them.

MAY 24
ST. DAVID I OF SCOTLAND

St. David was born in 1080. He was the youngest son of St. Margaret, queen of Scotland, and her good husband, King Malcom.

MAY 25
VENERABLE BEDE

Venerable Bede, the English priest, was famous as a saint, a priest, a monk, a teacher and a writer of history. He was born in England in 673.

MAY 26
ST. PHILIP NERI

St. Philip Neri was born in Florence, Italy, in 1515. As a child, his nickname was "Good little Phil." He was always so jolly and friendly that everyone he met loved him.

MAY 27
ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY

St. Augustine was the abbot of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome. Pope St. Gregory the Great chose him and forty other monks for a mission dear to his heart.

MAY 28
BLESSED MARGARET POLE

Blessed Margaret was born in 1471. She was the niece of two English kings, Edward IV and Richard III. Henry VII arranged her marriage to Sir Reginald Pole.

MAY 29
ST. MAXIMINIUS

St. Maximinius was a bishop who lived in the fourth century. It is believed that he was born in Poitiers, France. As a young man, he heard of a saintly bishop of Trier, in Gaul.

MAY 30
ST. JOAN OF ARC

St. Joan was born in 1412. Her hometown was Domremy, a little village in France. Jacques d'Arc, her father, was a hard working farmer.

MAY 31
THE VISITATION OF MARY

Visitation means "visit." The Archangel Gabriel told the Blessed Virgin Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was going to have a baby.

 
ABOUT ARCHANGELS
SAINT MICHAEL
St. Michael the Archangel Story
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SAINT GABRIEL

St. Gabriel Prayer

SAINT RAPHAEL

St. Raphael Prayer
 
PHOTO OF THE MONTH


Tour of the Relics of the Passion
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REFLECTIONS

“Jesus’ Baptism”

Why did Jesus, the sinless one sent from the Father in heaven, submit himself to John’s baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of Jesus bloody death upon the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:1-12). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God?

 
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