Priest "in fear" of feuding flock

A Brisbane Sunday newspaper has told of a Vietnamese Catholic community priest needing to be escorted from a church under police guard because of safety fears arising from an ongoing exteme reaction to last year's Archdiocesan judgment against claims of a supernatural phenomenon.

Fr Joseph Tuong told the Sunday Mail that he fears for his safety.

He said that he has received a series of bizarre anonymous threats during a dispute over Brisbane's Vietnamese Catholic Community Centre, made famous by claims of weeping statues.

"I don't even feel safe to go out at night. I'm a prisoner in my own house," he said.

Thousands of people flocked to the community centre at Inala in Brisbane's southwest last year after claims statues of the Virgin Mary were weeping blood.

Meanwhile a grandfather whose ear was chopped off with an axe has blamed the attack on changes at the Vietnamese Catholic Community Centre.

Nam Tran, 70, almost died when his son allegedly attacked him with an axe at his Forest Lake home on 1 July. Mr Tran this week spoke for the first time about the attack, telling The Sunday Mail an argument had started because his son did not want him to go to the community centre.

"Since there has been no Mass at the centre, there's been a lot of conflict in the community," an interpreter said. "His son told him not to go to the centre until things are settled."

Last year, the Archdiocese discredited claims that the weeping statue was a supernatural phenomenon, and transferred the centre's priest, Fr Joseph Liem, to the Sunshine Coast. Fr Tuong was appointed the centre's replacement chaplain and priest for the wider parish, dividing Vietnamese Catholics.

Critics say Fr Tuong has not provided any support to the community centre, but the priest says he has visited there only once because of safety fears.

"I just feel it is very unsecure and there would be a threat to harm me," he said.

Attempts at intimidation included phone calls involving only a flushing toilet and coughing, he said.

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Oudeman said the dispute is "unpredictable and explosive" and might be solved only with further intervention from the archbishop, who is in Germany until the end of the month.

Priest in fear of his feuding flock (Sunday Mail 14/8/05)

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

Busy priest fails to administer sacrament to dying baby (CathNews 8/8/05)
Brisbane Vietnamese Catholics in protest against Archdiocese (CathNews 2/5/05)
Investigation says no financial fraud at Brisbane Vietnamese Centre (CathNews 16/8/04)
Hoax weeping statue church chases missing donations (CathNews 6/8/04)
Brisbane priest says rosary beads 'shed oil' (CathNews 4/8/04)
Archbishop says weeping statues were fraudulent (CathNews 30/7/04)
Archbishop to announce statue probe results this morning (CathNews 29/7/04)
Brisbane miracle investigation report still weeks away (CathNews 9/7/04)
Weeping statue investigation progresses (CathNews 8/6/04)
Retired chemistry professor to examine weeping statues (CathNews 3/6/04)
Weeping Mary draws faithful (CathNews 31/5/04)
Archbishop Bathersby announces weeping statue investigation (CathNews 26/5/04)
Crowds flock to see 'weeping' religious icons (CathNews 24/5/04)

Response to Letter of Complaint to Archbishop John Bathersby from Mr Quang van Nguyen (Archdiocese of Brisbane 9/8/05)

15 Aug 2005