Because it sees the Catholic Church as a place of the freedom desired by all. That's why it's oppressing it, to stop the contagion. The report from a correspondent on the ground

ROMA, October 22, 2008 – At the synod taking place at the Vatican, there are two bishops from Vietnam: the bishop of Nha Trang, Joseph Vo Duc Minh, and of Thanh Hóa, Joseph Nguyên Chi Linh.

The latter of these, speaking on the morning of October 13, called the Church of Vietnam "one of the Churches most harshly tested by bloody and uninterrupted persecution."

But immediately after this, he encouraged those present with this passage from the conciliar constitution "Gaudium et Spes":

"The Church admits that she has greatly profited and still profits from the antagonism of those who oppose or who persecute her."

Proof of this "profit" – he said – is found in the flourishing of conversions in Vietnam, and the growing respect shown to Catholics for their extensive work in defense of motherhood, in a country with an extremely high abortion rate.

The bishop did not speak any further, in the synod hall, about the tribulations of Catholics in today's Vietnam. But the news reported every day by agencies like "Asia News" and "UCA News" attests to the growing difficulties. For asserting, after an unproductive meeting with representatives of the communist regime, that religious freedom "is a right, not a privilege," the archbishop of Hanoi, Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, has also come under attack. The city's mayor, Nguyên The Thao, a rising star at in Vietnamese politics and likely to become prime minister, has called for his removal.

For his part, the current prime minister, Nguyên Tan Dung, has threatened that the claims of the Catholics, if they do not stop, "will have a negative impact on the relationship between Vietnam and the Vatican," which do not have diplomatic relations with each other.

In Vietnam, the Holy See does not have full freedom to choose new bishops. The practice is for Rome to present three candidates, with the Vietnamese authorities excluding the ones they don't like. The last two appointments, following this practice, were made public last October 15.

Four months earlier, in June, a delegation from the Holy See had gone to Vietnam on an official visit. The statement released at the end of the mission raised hopes. But these were immediately belied by the facts.

An up-to-date overview of the tribulations of the Catholic Church in Vietnam is found in the report that follows, to be published in the Milan weekly "Tempi":