Busy priest fails to administer sacrament to dying baby

The parents of a baby girl who died without receiving the Sacrament of the Sick say they will not bury her until the Archdiocese of Brisbane investigates why a priest did not make it to her bedside.

The Brisbane Sunday Times reports that seven-month-old Gerardine Nguyen died without the blessing after the priest said he could not visit her in Royal Brisbane Hospital until the next day.

It says the child's devout parents say they "felt abandoned when the chaplain did not arrive to administer last rites".

"I want to know why the priest didn't come to see my baby," said her father, Quang Nguyen of Kippa-Ring in Redcliffe. "Before my baby died, I promised I would have the answer to this question before I buried her. It is unfair."

But the priest, who cannot be named for legal reasons, says he was unaware the baby was in such a critical condition. He said the call to administer the sacrament conflicted with other duties, and the sad case was being used to try to further undermine him.

The priest has been under siege since taking control of a Brisbane community centre made famous by claims that statues were weeping blood.

Some members of the Vietnamese Catholic community have conducted a media campaign to highlight their conviction that they are being treated unfairly be the Archdiocese, which investigated and dismissed its claims that the statue weeping blood was a miracle. The Archdiocese transferred the priest caught at the centre of the conflict - Fr Joseph Liem. Reports said that the community refused to accept the ministry of another Vietnamese priest - Fr Vu Dinh Tuong.

Priest denies last blessing to baby (Sunday Mail 7/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Brisbane

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8 Aug 2005