CHRISTIAN PEOPLE ARE ABANDONED
Vietnam Catholics left to the mercy o Communists CATHOLIC PREMIER IS NAMED TOO LATE
By Douglas Hyde
THE withdrawal of French forces from a large part of the Red River Delta in North Indo-China has meant the virtual abandonment to their fate at the hands of the Communists of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese Catholics well known for their active hostility to Communism.
In an exclusive interview Bishop Bianchi of Hong Kong, who was passing through London this week, told me: "The repercussions of what has happened in Indo-China will be felt all over Asia."
Bishop Heenan of Leeds last Sunday called for prayers for "those in Indo-China who have, at long last, been overrun by the Communists, who will without doilbt wreak a terrible vengeance on the soldiers of Christ."
Fr. Patrick O'Connor, of the Society of St. Columban, and American correspondent of the Catholic news service, N.C.W.C., who has been to every battle front and "hot spot" in Asia in recent years, roundly declared in a despatch sent from Hanoi, Vietnam. just before the evacuation was carried through last week : "The greatest sell-out of Christian people since Poland may now threaten the Catholics of North Vietnam. It may well threaten those of all Vietnam."
Solidly Catholic Then this week, after the abandonment of the area to the Communist Vietminh, be sent another, saying : "This is the heaviest single blow the Church has received in the Far East since the fall of China."
The area which has been passed to the Reds is one of the most solidly Catholic in the Far East. It is also one of the most populous and fertile in all Asia.
in It live some 2,000,000 people, of whom some 400.000 are Catholics. In all, at least 1,600.000 Vietnam Catholics are now threatened.
It will be recalled that when the Catholic village of Than Thuong was captured last February, the Vietminh Communists massacred the 1,400 men, women and children they found there and totally destroyed every building in it.
in London on Monday, Bishop Bianchi, who two years ago was driven out of China by the Com
munists after 31 years' work there, told me : "It is difficult for people in the West--even for Catholics—to understand how profound the repercussions will be.
In his own Hong Kong, which is on the edge of the Communist mainland, the repercussions would be immediate, he said. In particular, the intellectuals among the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Communism who pack the colony would feel that they had been once again let down.
"They are bottled up there in Hong Kong," he said, "and they feel there is no escape anywhere. They came out with nothing but the idea that they could not live under Communism."
By this latest defeat, he went on, the West would lose face — which means far more than people here realise—all over Asia, both among anti-Communists and those who try to sit on the fence.
Looking b e y o n d the present disasters on the battlefield to the conference table where the fate of Vietnam's millions is also being decided, Fr. Patrick O'Connor writes:
"French representatives in Geneva —and, maybe, in parallel discussions elsewhere—are making a deal with the Communist Vietminh.
"They say it's for peace. That is a tricky phrase. Everybody knows that it would be only the peace of surrender — surrender of the Vietnamese people and of Vietnamese territory to Communist rule.
"It would, indeed, bring a halt to the present conflict in Indo-China. But it would unloose in new areas the systematic trampling of human rights that has already afflicted millions in China and other Red-ruled countries.
"It would increase, not lessen, the danger of a third World War.
"The Communists plan the conquest of all Asia and the world. Every new gain makes them more aggressive.
'There are about 1,000,000 Catholics in North Vietnam, and about 1,600,000 in the entire country. They arc not the only Vietnamese who dread Communist rule.
"The French and Vietnamese Governments, now associated in the French Union, have an obligation to defend these people. No Government has the right to trade them for a cease-fire deal that will open the way for persecution.
"France gave Vietnam independence only recently, while the conference was sitting in Geneva to
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