Kon Tum (Agenzia Fides) - Before dying, Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh, the 41-year-old Vietnamese Dominican priest killed while celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the diocese of Kon Tum on January 29, forgave his murderer. This was reported to Fides by the Bishop of the diocese of Kon Tum, Msgr. Aloisio Nguyen Hung Vi, who on February 7, together with other priests, visited the community of the church of Sa Loong, part of the parish of Dak Mot, where Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh carried out his pastoral service and where he was murdered.
During his pastoral visit, the Bishop had a moving meeting with the parishioners and listened to the story of those present at the scene of the crime. Another Dominican religious, Friar Giao, who serves in the church of Sa Loong, and some faithful, blocked Nguyen Van Kien, the murderer, and handed him over to the local police. The man comes from a devoted Catholic family (he lived with his parents, a brother and a sister, who are distraught) but suffers from mental illness.
Msgr. Aloisio Nguyen Hung V comforted the faithful and asked them to pray incessantly "so that the soul of Father Joseph may enjoy the face of our Father in Heaven". He then asked us to "pray to support all the priests and religious of the diocese, and that we all entrust our lives to God". The Bishop recalled: "Father Thanh was a very young priest and was known as an educated, kind and likeable man. He was very precious in the work of formation of the laity and for the missionary ministry in the diocese of Kon Tum, in the central Highlands. His death is a great loss for the diocese, for the Dominican Order and for his loved ones". He then went on to say: "If at a civil level we follow the path of justice, with a look of faith we firmly reject all kinds of evil and we entrust everything to the mercy of God. Let us remember that 'the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct' (Mt 16:27).
We are called to love, to forgive, to put aside disagreements and hatreds, and to pray that every sinner will repent".
In a pastoral letter delivered and disseminated to the whole diocese, Bishop Aloisio Nguyen Hung expresses this wish: "May the mysteries surrounding this tragic event soon be clarified. In addition to sharing, consoling and supporting Father Thanh's family and the Dominican Order, we are called to live a witness of love and forgiveness. May hatred and violence be stopped so that love and unity can develop more intensely". Sa Loong church belongs to the parish of Dak Mot, in the diocese of Kontum. Given the presence of a large community of faithful, preparations have recently been made to found a new parish there. This is why Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh was in that church. (AD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 9/2/2022)