Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam
Message Regarding East Sea Tension
Since May 2nd, 2014, China has unilaterally placed an oil rig known as HD-981 inside the Vietnam’s marine exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf, escorted by a large fleet of various ships including navy warships. On May 3rd and 4th, 2014, China’s navy warships, backed up by military planes, launched an attack on Vietnam’s fishery control and coast guard vessels that were on duty. This deployment of the oil rig by China is a provocative and escalating action with a clear intention by the Chinese government to carry out its step-by-step plan to invade Vietnam, disregarding the international codes of conducts that were signed by both China and Vietnam, in particular the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC). This situation is posing a high risk of war between China and Vietnam.
Mindful of the tensions and dangers of the situation, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Vietnam (CBCV), in our duly responsibility, states our position as follow:
1. The Catholic Church holds steadfast to its principle of building peace and is against warfare of any kind. Peace will not bring us any loss but war can destroy all. All current disputes, therefore, must be resolved patiently through the means of dialogue, excluding all acts of defiance, aggression, war, and hatred promotion from both sides. We call on the Chinese government to stop all aggressive behaviors immediately. Let the word of Pope Paul VI echoes once more: “Never one against another, never, never again… No more war, war never again” (Address to UN General Assembly, Oct 4, 1965). “Only peace generates peace, a peace that is not separated from the demands of justice but is fostered by personal sacrifice, tolerance, mercy, and love” (Message on the World Day of Peace, 1975).
2. To the government of Vietnam: we call on you to take a firm stance in your foreign policy with China on the basis of our traditional values of prioritizing the interest of our people and our country, even though you might have to recourse to persistent diplomacy and dialogue to resolve conflicts. The treatises that purport to honor the mutual friendship between the two neighboring countries, between the two Communist parties, in reality have never served out national benefit; on the contrary, these treatises have brought our country to the brink of peril.
3. To the Vietnamese Catholics: it is the time for us to wholeheartedly express our patriotism in accordance with Pope Benedict XVI’s words: “A good Catholic is also a good citizen.” Patriotism expresses itself in the fact that we cannot be disinterested in the present situation of our country as well as its future, that we diligently make sacrifices and pray for our country and our people, and that each according to one’s conscience actively participates in the activities to defend the nation, be ready to respond to the call to save our country from imperilment.
4. Our Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam calls each diocese to organize a day of prayer for our country, modeled after Pope Francis’ call for a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria that was held worldwide on July 9, 2013. We urge everyone to repent, to reduce excessive eating, drinking, and shopping in order to share what we have to support the injured fishermen, coast guards, and maritime patrol officers – victims of China’s aggression.
Carrying out the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam always strives to express the way of peace building in our mission, desiring that justice and peace are to be implemented in resolving the present conflict.
May 9th, 2014
Most Reverend Paul Bùi Văn Đọc
Archbishop, Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam
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