The political and military origin of the war of Vietnam has been described with millions of written and spoken words. Yet, nothing has been said about one of the most significant forces which contributed to its promotion, namely, the role played by religion, which in this case, means the part played by the Catholic Church, and by her diplomatic counterpart, the Vatican.
Their active participation is not mere speculation. It is an historical fact as concrete as the presence of the U.S., or the massive guerrilla resistance of Asian communism. The activities of the last two have been scrutinized by thousands of books, but the former has never been assessed, not even in a summarized form.
The Catholic Church must be considered as a main promoter in the origin, escalation and prosecution of the Vietnamese conflict. From the very beginning this religious motivation helped set in motion the avalanche that was to cause endless agonies in the Asiatic and American continents.
The price paid was immense: thousands of billions of dollars; the mass dislocation of entire populations; political anarchy; military devastation on an unprecedented scale; the disgrace upon the civilized world; the loss of thousands upon thousands of young Asian and American lives. Last but not least, the wounding, mutilation and death of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.
The tragedy of Vietnam will go down in history as one of the most pernicious deeds of the contemporary alliance between politics and organized religion.
Factors of a political, ideological, economic and military nature played no mean role in the unfolding of the war, but the religion of the Catholic Church was one of its main instigators. From the beginning her role has been minimized when not obliterated altogether. Concrete facts however, cannot be wiped away so easily, and it is these which we shall now scrutinize, even if briefly.