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Catholicism in Vietnam

On Tue, 4 Feb 2003 14:47:23 -0800 (PST) joseph j hannah wrote:

Dear VSG-ers,

A colleague has asked me to ask you if you know of any good sources on the history of Catholicism in Vietnam. He is particularly interested in the make-up of clerical personnel -- priests, bishops, etc. -- in the colonial era. My impression is that nearly all Catholic priests in Vietnam have been Vietnamese since the end of the 19th century (or so), and that the number of foreign missionary priests after that time has been very limited. But I have no historical sources for my impressions.

My friend is also interested in the dynamics between the Catholic Church and the various nationalist movements in the early 20th century.

Can you offer any citations on these topics?


Joe Hannah
Ph.C. Geography
University of Washington

From nhung6@ucla.edu Sun Aug 3 15:26:21 2003
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2003 15:13:58 PST
From: Nhung Tuyet Tran <nhung6@ucla.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Catholicism in VN

A. Launay wrote a number of monographs on the history of the MEP missions in Tonkin & Cochinchina, including a couple of volumes of documentary sources. Launay published these in the early twentieth century and they are particularly good because he served as archivist for the MEP archives on Rue de Bac. See also, the MEP's Cadiere: many of his essays are available on the Bulletin des Amis de Vieux Hue CD published by the EFEO.

For more recent works, Alain Forest published a study through l'Hamarttan Press (1997?) and Peter Phan provides a translation of A. De Rhodes'Catechismus _Mission & Catechesus (Orbis Books, 1999). Cao Huy Thuan wrote a Ph.D. dissertation for the U. Paris on this subject some years ago linking Catholicism to colonialism.

I forget the titles offhand and can't find my files now, but names of Vmese authors to look for include Do Quang Chinh & Nguyen Hong. Ng. Hong wrote "Lich Su Truyen Giao VN," and Hong Nhue has also done some translation work.

For works on local priests, see de Bourges, Recit abrege de bourgine du progres du clerge tonkinois. I have also pasted bits and pieces below.

Borri, Cristoforo, S.I. Relation de la Cochinchine. Revue Indochinoise 11-12 (1909): 343-85; 486-90 BVAH

Rhodes, Alexandre. Relacao da morte do catequista Andrre, protomartir da Cochinchina Boletim eclesiastico da diocese de Macau 76 )1978) 237-62.

Koffler, jean. Description historique de la Cochinchine. Traduction introduction et nots par V. Barbier. Revue Indochinoisse 15 (1911) 448-62, 566-75; 16 (1911) 275-85; 582-607

Cadiere, Louis MEP Letter du Pere Caspar Luis sur la Cochincina. Annotasions par BAVH 18 (1931) 406-532.

Letter de 17 november 1621 parue en traduction francaise dans ‘Histoire de ce qui s’est passe en Ethiopie 1620-24 ( Paris 1828), 122-48.

Vu Khanh Tuong J. Les missions jesuites avant les Missions Etrangeres au Vietnam (1615-65). these a l'institute Catholique de Paris (1956). 908 pages.

Do Quang Chinh Joseph. SI. La mission au Vietnam, 1624-30 et 1640-45, d’Alexandre de Rhodes, SI avignonaise. These a l’ecole des Hautes etudes, Paris 1969.

Bonifacy, A. Les Debuts du chreistianism en Anam. Des origines au commencement du 18ieme siecle. Hanoi: Iprimerie Tonkinoise, 1930.

Chappoulie, Henri. Aux origines d'une eglise. Rome et les missions d’Indochinese ay XVII sievle. Paris (Bloud et Gay)

Do Quang Chinh. Les adaptations culturelles d'alexandre de Rhodes in Etudes interdiscipliaires sur le Vietnam (1974) 113-44

Cadiere, L. Le titre divin en annamite, etude de terminologie chretienne. Revue d’histoire des missions 8 (1931) suppl 1-27.

From sinh.vinh@ualberta.ca Sun Aug 3 15:26:28 2003
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 17:36:40 -0700
From: Sinh Vinh <sinh.vinh@ualberta.ca>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: Catholicism in VN

Dear all:

1) For works in Vietnamese on the Catholic missions in VN, please see also the following :

a) Ho^`ng Lam, _Li.ch su+? dda.o Thie^n Chu'a o+? Vie^.t Nam_ (History of Catholicism in Vietnam) annotated by L. Cadie`re. Hue^': DDa.i Vie^.t Thie^.n Ba?n, 1944.

b) Tru+o+ng Ba' Ca^`n, Co^ng Gia'o DDa`ng Trong (Catholicism in Cochinchina). Ho-Chi-Minh City: Tu? sa'ch DDa.i ddoa`n ke^'t, 1992.

c) Nguye^~n Ho^`ng, _Li.ch su+? truye^`n gia'o o+? Vie^.t Nam_ (History of the [Catholic] Missions in Vietnam). Sa`igo`n: Hie^.n Ta.i, 1959.

2) As an example of the "dynamics between the Catholic Church and the various nationalist movements in the early 20th century", see the contacts between Phan Bo^.i Cha^u and the Catholics in the Qua?ng Bi`nh area in Phan's _Autobiography_ ( _Overturned Chariot: The Autobiography of Phan-Bo^.i-Cha^u_ translated by Vinh Sinh and Nicholas Wickenden, Hawaii Univ. Press, 1999, p. 70).

3) Origins of the Republic of VN's flag: Wow, this is a highly fascinating story! When I translated with my colleague Phan's autobiography, we wrote the following footnote in relation to this question (Ibid, footnote 38, pp. 106-107), which I would like to share with you.

When "in 1945 Tra^`n Tro.ng Kim government was searching for a motif of a national flag, the design for the diagram of Ly [which David Marr has mentioned in his recent message] was adopted with slight modification. In his memoirs, TTK recalled that at the time, there were those who opposed this design because Ly included among its connotations "Fire" and "Parting", suggesting warfare and unhappy future for the country. TTK was nevertheless adamant in his choice.
(_Mo^.t co+n gio' bu.i_ [A whirl of Dust] [ Saigon: Vi~nh So+n, 1969], 61). His flag continued in use in the South throughout the period when Vietnam was partitioned (1954-75)."

By the way, the idea about Ly had been used for the first time by Phan Bo^.i Cha^u and his associates approximately four decades prior to that. In 1906 (the Chinese name for this year is Bi'nh Ngo., i.e. the Year of the Horse), Phan and group rented a house and named it Bi'nh-Ngo.-Hie^n, which according to Phan, "implied an allusion, with bright aupices (ly-minh), to our country in the South" (ibid.).

"In the Vietnamese calendar, modeled after the Chinese, the name of each year consists of 2 components, the first designating one of the Ten Heavenly Stems, and the second one of the Twelve Earthly Branches. In Bi'nh Ngo. (in Chinese ping-wu),... Bi'nh refers to the South and Fire,... Ngo. refers to the South and Noon. Of the Eight Diagrams (Ba't qua'i, in Chinese Pa-kua) used in divination, Ly, like Bi'nh, refers to South and Brightness, as well as Fire and Separation or Parting. Phan is obviously playing on words when he follows Bi'nh Ngo. with Ly-minh, as both imply "South" and "bright," i.e. "auspicious." Phan seems not to have recalled, in his eagerness to find a name that would symbolize a promising future, that according to Chinese tradition Ping-wu was one of the two most notoriously unlucky years in the calendrical cycle (The other one was DDinh mu`i, in Chinese Ting-wei, i.e. the Year of the Sheep, wei, combined with the fourth Stem, ting). This year, by the way, is Quy' Mu`i, not DDinh Mu`i.

A Happy New Year to all !

Vi~nh Si'nh

From PHansen@melbourne.catholic.org.au Sun Aug 3 15:26:51 2003
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 14:19:32 +1100
From: PHansen@melbourne.catholic.org.au
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: query: Catholicism in Vietnam (2)

Not wishing to bore peoiple too much, I'll make this my last dip. If Jack is particularly interested in the composition of the clergy, I'd particularly reccomend these two works, which might be a little difficult to get hold of, but have quite a bit of relevant information.

1. Cong Giao va Dan Toc, Cong Giao Sau Qua Trinh 50 Nam, HCM City, 1995.

2. Le Ngoc Bich, 'Nhan Vat Cong Giao o Viet Nam: Cac Vi Giam Muc Mot Thoi
da qua doi (1933-1995), HCM City, 1995.

The controversy over the canonization of the 117 martyrs in 1998 saw a great outpouring of writings on Catholic History, largely from a Party-state perspective, much of it relating to the colonial and pre-colonial periods. I'd highly reccommend the special 1988 edition of Nghien Cuu Lich Su (238 + 239 combined). Also from this period are the following important works, two of them records of conferences:

1. Nguyen Hong Duong, 'Hoat Dong Ton Giao va Chinh Tri Cua Thien Chua Giao o Mien Nam: Thoi My Nguy(1954-1975), HCM City, 1988
2. Uy Ban Doian Ket Cong Giao Yeu Nuoc Viet Nam Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, 'Viec Phong Thanh cac Chan Phuoc Tu Dao tai Viet Nam], HCM City, 1988.
3. Uy Ban Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi Viet Nam va Ban Ton Giao Chinh Phu, 'Mot So Van De Lich Su Dao Thien Chua Trong Lich Su Dan Toc Viet Nam', HCM City, 1988.
4. Uy Ban Khoa Hoc Xa Hoi Viet Nam va Ban Ton Giao Chinh Phu, 'Van De Phong Thanh Tu Dao va Lich su Dan Toc Viet Nam', HCM City, 1988.
5. Do Quang Hung, Mot So Van De Lich Su Thien Chua Giao o Viet Nam, Hanoi 1990.

Recent years have seen another active period of historical analysis from within Vietnam of the role of Catholicism in Vietnamese natiuonal history. Under the auspices of Do Quang Hung and Nhuyen Hong Duong, much of this writing offers a more balanced and sympathetic approach than the works cited above. In this group I'd include:
1. Ha Huy Tu, Tim Hieu Net Dep Van Hoa Thien Chua Giao, Hanoi, 2002
2. Nguyen Hong Duong, Nghi Le va Loi Song Cong Giao Trong Van Hoa Viet Nam, Hanoi 2000. (He also wrote an earlier book about the Catholic village of Luu Phuong in Ninh Binh province; I don't have the citation at present).
3. Nguyen Van Kiem, Su DU Nhap Cua Dao Thien Chua Giao Vao Viet Nam Tu The Ky XVII Den The Ky XIX, Hanoi 2001.

Interesting articles on similar themes in appear in Nghien Cuu Ton Giao at:
1 (1999), pp. 54-60.
2 (2000), pp. 42-48, 56-60.
4 (2000) pp. 30-36
1 (2001), pp. 31-40.

Some helpful works written from a Catholic perspective include:
1. Bui Duc Sinh, Lich Su Giao Hoi Cong Giao' Saigon, 1972.
2. Bui Duc Sinh, Giao Hoi Cong Giao o Viet Nam, 1975-2000, Westmister 2001.
3. 'Mot Giao Su Su Hoc', Giao Hoi Cong Giao o Viet Nam, 3 vols, Clagary, 1998.
4. Nguyen Khac Ngu, Lien Lac Viet-Phap The Ky XVII-XVIII, Montreal, 1990
5. Phan Phat Huon, Viet Nam Giao Su, 2 vols., 1962-5.
6. Phan Thiet, Dat Viet, Nguoi Viet, Dao Viet, Virginia (?), 1995.
7. Tran Phuc Long, Ky Yeu Phat Diem, 1891-1991, Long Beach Cal., 1991.

Finally, another work on Catholicism and Colonial Policy arising from neither Catholic nor Party-State positions is:
Cao Huy Thuan, Dao Thien Chua va Chu Nghia Thuc Dan tai Viet Nam, Los Angeles 1988 (I believe this is a Vietnamese translation of an earlier French original version).

Hope this helps.

Peter Hansen

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