President Ngo Dinh Diem and the Archbishop of South Vietnam

"President Ngo Dinh Diem was born on January 3, 1901. He was a certified anti-communist nationalist and the first President of the Republic of Vietnam. His elder brother [Traditional Catholic] Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục was the leading Catholic figure in Vietnam.

He was a former seminarian and he attended the Traditional Latin Mass everyday. He left the seminary but did not marry, he remained celibate. Diem was a good president by building new schools and helping the economy. He was also a good Catholic. He lived his faith well. Diem dedicated his country to the Virgin Mary. The number of people who didn’t like him grew because he was a Catholic. Since Diem was a Catholic, he didn’t agree with the Pagan Buddhists so they became oppressed since he ignored them. The main religion in Vietnam was Buddhism. Around 80% of the population were followers of Buddha and Roman Catholics made up only just over 10%.

Deim was a devout Catholic and tended to appoint people to positions of authority who shared his religious beliefs. During his reign, Catholics had always held a privileged position in Vietnam. Diem had pursued policies in Vietnam favoring his co-religionists. His government was regarded as being biased towards Catholics in public service and military promotions, as well as the allocation of land, business favors and tax concessions. He exempted the Catholic Church from land redistribution, gave them more aid and job promotions, and allowed Catholic paramilitaries to persecute Buddhists. Buddhists in the army were often denied promotion if they refused to convert to Catholicism. He imprisoned hundreds of Buddhists and restricted the construction of Buddhist temples.

The Buddhist majority was prohibited from displaying Buddhist flags during the birthday celebration of Gautama Buddha when the government cited a regulation prohibiting the display of non-government flags. However, Catholics had been encouraged to fly religious flags at another celebration. A law against the flying of religious flags was selectively invoked; the Buddhist flag was banned from display on Buddha’s birthday while the Vatican flag was displayed to celebrate the anniversary of the consecration of his brother as an Archbishop. Diệm labeled the Buddhists as damn fools and ordered his forces to arrest Buddhists who engaged in civil disobedience. This angered the pagan Buddhists.The Buddhists were furious and began a series of demonstrations against the Diem government. Diem’s reign was short lived since the country was made up of mostly Buddhists. The uprisings grew and became more frequent and Buddhists were lighting themselves on fire in protest. President Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, were assassinated together on November 2, 1963.