Vietnam forces closure of controversial Church exhibition

Vietnamese maps

Vietnamese authorities have forced the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City to cancel an exhibition of historic maps detailing Vietnam's sovereignty over disputed waters, NCR Online reports.

The exhibit of historic maps detailing Vietnam's maritime sovereignty of waters off the coast of Vietnam, recently disputed by China, was supposed to open June 19.

The Archdiocese had planned to organise the four-day exhibit at the newly built headquarters building of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, from Thursday to Sunday. Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc of the Archdiocese, also head of the Bishops' Conference, was expected to open the event.

Vicar General Fr Ignatius Ho Van Xuan issued a statement June 18 on the archdiocese website: 'Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc decided to cancel the exhibit of maps claiming our national sovereignty over Spratly and Paracel Archipelagos on the East Sea (South China Sea).'

Fr Xuan did not disclose any reason for why the exhibit was cancelled, but he expressed wishes local priests, religious, and laity would sympathize with the Archbishop.

However, informed Church sources told NCR last week that  the Committee for Religious Affairs in Ho Chi Minh City had sent Archbishop Doc a letter saying that it did 'not allow the Archdiocese to open the exhibit.'

These same sources said the Church had refused to ask for Government permission for the exhibition. The reason cited: 'Organizing the exhibit is the internal work of the local Church, and the exhibit aims to help local Catholics to master the national sovereignty over the two disputed archipelagos and raise public awareness of patriotism after China illegally deployed its big oil rig last month within Vietnam's waters.'

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Vietnam bans church exhibit of national maritime territory (NCR Online)

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