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Published: March 23rd 2008
Churches of Danang, Part One.
I am always drawn to and take photos of the Catholic Churches in Vietnam. Most of my friends there happen to be Catholics. Almost all of the families I know had migrated from the North in 1954. Most of the Churches date from that time except for the ones that were already here that was built more for the French than Vietnamese.
Danang Cathedral is one of those grand old Churches. It was built for the French residents in 1923 and remains in great condition today. Like all Catholic Church compounds you are not just offered a Church but a compound for meditation, instruction and houses for the staff.
The Danang Cathedral is known by the locals as the rooster Church because of the rooster on its weather vane. Another Catholic Church down the road sports a fish. It is close to the fish market so I suppose a lot of its parishners are fishermen.
Almost all of these Churches have a school nearby that used to be a Catholic School. They are all confiscated by the government and are now public schools. Recently I have heard that it is now legal
for the Churches to run schools. The government has been warming up to the Churches calling them a “moral authority” for the people. The local government of Tam Nong when I was there on a Catholic relief mission even made a gift of a table and chairs to the Priest. Recently, they made legal some Protestant Churches that I will talk about in part two.
They didn’t ask for my advice of course but if I was them I would enjoy the freedom of separation. The Catholic Church and the French Colonial Government often were one. It is a sore point with the government and I don’t know why they would want to make the same mistake all over again. But, that is just an old Methodist point of view.
All over the south there are many new Churches. The most modern designs are presented. The big Church with a fish on it in Danang was rebuilt by mostly Viet Kieu money. I talked to one man who was home visiting and he said the Viet Kieu sent 160,000 dollars to rebuilt the Church. I think this has happened all over Vietnam.
All of these Churches get
plenty of use. Almost always there is an overflow crowd for the many Masses during the week.
Another totally different Church in Danang is the Cao Dai Temple. There are 50,000 Cao Dai faithful in Quang Nam and Danang provinces. This is a religion only seen in Vietnam. The headquarters is in Tay Ninh west of Ho Chi Minh City. It is really something to see. The one in Danang is spectacular by itself. I wasn’t there during its use so the photos lack what most say is a beautiful ceremony.
A sign reading “van giao nhat ly” which means “All religions have the same reason” hangs from the ceiling in front of the altar. A painting depicts the leaders of the five great world religions. From left to right are Mohammed, Laotse, Jesus, Buddha and Confucius.
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