Who is he?
Father Etienne Chan Tin is a Vietnamese Catholic priest known for his relentless fight for human rights and religious freedom in Vietnam over the last six decades.
Born in a small village in central Vietnam in 1920, Father Tin lived through every major events that shaped the country’s modern history – French colonialism, the fight for national independence during World War II, Vietnam’s partition into North and South in 1954, the Vietnam War, and the reunification of the country in 1975.
Why is he in the news?
Father Tin died December 1 at age 92 in a Catholic convent in Ho Chi Minh City. He was perhaps the most active voice in Vietnam that brought to light the problem of political prisoners under the U.S.-backed regime of Nguyen Van Thieu.
Following the reunification of Vietnam in 1975, Father Tin continued to advocate for freedom of religion and expression, and strongly spoke out against the arrests and oppression of dissidents and political prisoners under the new Communist Party-led government. As a result, he was sent into exile in a remote parish off the coast of southern Vietnam from 1990 to 1993. His funeral was attended by thousands of Catholics in Ho Chi Minh City December 6.
What can we expect?
Although he held values different from the leaders of the ruling Vietnamese government, Father Tin never resorted to violence, but consistently stressed the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation.
The passing of Father Tin is a great loss for Vietnamese civil society as a whole, but particularly to the poor and the forgotten to whom he ministered as a Catholic priest.