A Catholic diocese in Vietnam has suspended an elderly priest after he joined a banned group of exorcists, disobeying his bishop.
Da Lat Diocese announced on Dec. 6 that 72-year-old Father Dominic Nguyen Chu Truyen had been suspended from administering sacraments and pastoral care.
The diocese’s vicar general, Father John Bosco Hoang Van Chinh, announced the suspension of Father Truyen, who claims to be an exorcist.
Father Turyen lived in a house owned by Teresa Nguyen Thi Thuong, who leads a group of exorcists based in Bao Loc parish in Lam Dong province.
Thuong and her group members regularly perform exorcism inside the house, attracting several people. The diocese banned Catholics from attending such practice in June after some priests and nuns also attended the rituals.
The vicar general said Father Truyen sent two letters in October to Bishop Dominic Nguyen Van Manh and the diocesan advisory board stating that he “has to absolutely obey the will of God” even if it means disobeying the bishop.
Father Truyen, a former pastor of Thanh Mau parish, said that Thuong received “a mandate from God for him.”
He claimed that he could “put hands on patients and heal them and perform an exorcism without seeking the bishop’s permission.”
The priest said he considers this service as “a special grace from God, more than his priesthood.”
Father Chinh, also the chancellor of the diocese, said Father Truyen and the exorcists’ group posted several video clips on their exorcism rituals on social media, disregarding the bishop’s ban on such activities.
“In doing so, Father Truyen put himself out of the college of priests, headed by the bishop whom he promised to obey when he was ordained a priest.”
He said Father Truyen telephoned him on Dec. 3 and 4, asking for his suspension from the priesthood.
Bishop Manh decided on the suspension after “consulting the advisory board, praying and reflecting on it,” Father Chinh’s announcement said.
He said the suspension would be revoked only after the priest meets the bishop, repents his actions, and repairs the damages incurred through his bad example.
Father Chinh said the suspension is a painful experience, but it is done to defend local Catholics’ faith and protect their unity.