Appeal by the new President of South Viet Nam
“LET us ask for Divine protection." cried Mr. Ngo Dinh Diem, South Viet Nam's Catholic President, as he proclaimed in Saigon last week that "the State of Viet Nast] is a Republic."
The President read the proclamation in front of Independence Palace in the presence of two Bishops who last year came down from the North with the refugees —Mgr. Pham Ngoc Chi and Mgr. Doi.
With them was Fr. Nguyen Van Dinh, a Bishop-elect, recently named for the new vicariate of Cantho.
It was a gala day in Saigon. Many Catholics had poured in by truck from She refugee villages. But the day was clouded for them by the Government's continued censorship of all news concerning the appointment of Fr. Nguyen Van Hien as Vicar Apostolic of Saigon, in succession to Bishop Cassaigne, who has retired.
This first nomination of a Vietnamese Bishop for Saigon marks an important stage in the Church's progress in Viet Nam. But President Diem, while not resisting the
Holy See. is said to have asked that the nomination he changed. though it has been announced in the Saigon churches.
It is thought that Fr. Nguyen Van Hien's strict abstention from political pronouncements may account for the Government's feeling that his tendencies are proFrench. He is highly esteemed among his own people for his priestly qualities.
Fr. Patrick O'Connor, N.C.W.C. correspondent in Saigon, writes:
The referendum resulting in Mr. Diem beconsing Head of State was a useful bridge to the proclamation of the Republic rather than a test to solve a doubtful issue.
The actual voting process had sufficient safeguards for secrecy. But the organisation of the referendum. all publicity (some of it unbecoming), and the vote counting were completely in the
hands of Mr. Diem's administradon.
Certainly. the proclamation of the Republic and its instant recognition by foreign powers are a triumph for strong-willed President Diem. He has stolen Ho Chi Miuh's nationalistic thunder.
New tests will be the President's power to weld and lead a party in constructive government and the ability of his non-Communist opponents to form a constructive opposition party.