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Báo Mỹ đăng tin về Thái Hà, Việt Nam: Catholic defendants saved by the Blessed Mother's intercession
Thứ Năm, Ngày 11 tháng 12-2008
VietCatholic News (10 Dec 2008 )
For the 8 parishioners who were tried on Monday, it was Our Lady of Immaculate Conception who saved them from imprisonment.

Praying in front of the courthouse
Protesting outside the courthouse
The joy after the trial
Initially the trial was scheduled on Dec. 5 the same day when the new auxiliary bishop of the capital, Mgr Chu Van Minh, was set to be consecrated. It was obvious that the government wanted to minimize the number of attendances at the site of the trial as priests and faithful would be involved in the cathedral of Nam Dinh, 90 km away, rather than attend the trial.

However, at the end, “the trial was re-scheduled for Monday Dec. 8, right on the feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. Catholics at Thai Ha believe that it was one of the Blessed Mother's intercessions,” Fr. Joseph Nguyen reported from Hanoi.

There are even some more to confirm their belief. Fr. Joseph Nguyen explained: “It is the intimidation tactic of the government when it throws the full force of prosecution behind an effort to punish ordinarily law-abiding citizens for such a comparatively minor matter.”

He is convinced that Vietnam government has determined to send a message of intimidation to thousands of famers and civilians whose land also illegally seized by the government that they should not follow the Thai Ha footstep in demanding their property back.

“In that context, Redemptorists and their parishioners had expected severe sentences. Their fear was not baseless. The initial sentences by prosecutors confirmed it.”

Another Redemptorist believed that it was God’s providence that people inside the court could feel the anger of Catholics outside the courthouse.

“Police inside the courtroom tried all ways to close the windows, but they failed,” said Redemptorist Father Pierre Nguyen Van Khai, the only priest allowed to attend the 7-hour trial. “So judges, lawyers, defendants and all those attending the trial could hear very clear thousands of Catholics protesting outside the courthouse who kept yelling ‘Innocent, Innocent,’, ‘God be with you,’, ‘You are victims,’ and ‘We want to go to prison instead of you.’”.

“I believe it was God’s providence,” he concluded.

After the trial, thousands of Catholics publicly welcomed defendants. Catholics from the capital and neighboring provinces cheered, clapped, and offered congratulations and flowers to the defendants and their lawyers. Well-wishers hoisted defendants in the air, shed tears and shouted "Innocent!" and "Justice wins!" as they walked in procession through Ha Noi streets back to Thai Ha church where again they celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception second time in the day. The first Mass had been celebrated at 5 AM before they walked in procession to the courthouse.

“It was the first time in my life to see defendants dress so beautifully at a trial. It seemed to me that they went for a wedding, not a trial,” said Ta Phong Tan, assistance for lawyer Le Tran Luat who defended for defendants.

“They were innocent. They dressed so beautifully like that to tell everyone that they were innocent, they had nothing to be ashamed of; and that they were proud and happy to be witnesses of the truth and justice,” explained Fr. Matthew Vu Khoi Phung, the superior of Hanoi Redemptorist Monastery.

“We dressed beautifully as in a wedding and hold palm leaves, often used on Palm Sunday to celebrate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, to express our belief that those who are persecuted for faith will enter gloriously into the Heavenly Jerusalem,” he added.
J.B. An Dang
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