FATHER THADEUS NGUYEN VAN LY
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.
OF THE SAINTS
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.
St. Athanasius was born around 297 in Alexandria, Egypt. He devoted his life to proving that Jesus is truly God.
ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES
Both of these saints were part of the original group of Jesus' twelve apostles.
BLESSED MARIE-LEONIE PARADIS
Blessed Marie-Elodie Paradis was born in the village of L'Acadie in Quebec, Canada. It was May 12, 1840.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
St. Antoninus lived in the fifteenth century. Even as a boy he showed that he had good sense and will power.
ST. IGNATIUS OF LACONI
St. Ignatius was the son of a poor farmer in Laconi, Italy. He was born on December 17, 1701.
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.
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.
St. Matthias was one of Our Lord's seventy-two disciples.
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.
St. Ubald lived in twelfth-century Italy. He was an orphan raised by his uncle, a bishop. Ubald was given a good education.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PHOTO OF THE MONTH
of the Relics of the Passion
for Holy Relics)
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?