Toan Ninh

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - SCU Access Only


Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2020.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Lisa Fullam


On June 18, 2015, Pope Francis issued Laudato Si’. This is the first encyclical in the Catholic Church to focus on ecology to raise awareness of the increasingly serious ecological crisis. The ecological crisis can be seen throughout the world, in the melting polar ice caps, ocean garbage, and wildfires such as those in Australia. It is worth noting that the Oxford Dictionary’s 2018 word of the year was “toxic” since this word “is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year,” and “toxic added many strings to its poisoned bow becoming an intoxicating description for the year’s most talked about topics.”1 Also, the Oxford English Dictionary has chosen “climate emergency” as the 2019 word of this year because it calls for “a sense of urgency in the fight against global warming.”2

The reality of the words “toxic” and “climate emergency” has been especially felt in Vietnam for the past several years. In 2016, Vietnam suffered a marine life disaster caused by the toxic chemical waste of Formosa Taiwan Ha Tinh Steel. As a result, a large number of dead fish were found on the coast of H. Tĩnh, Quảng Binh, Quảng Trị, and Thừa Thiên Huế. The massive destruction of marine life severely impacted poor fishermen and led to a confrontation with the communist government. In the words of Vietnamese citizens, “government takes money, people take disaster.”3 Truly, most of the poor in the villages mentioned above lost their jobs and suffered death and illness because of this disaster, which led to a protest between the people and the governments at Nghệ An, Quảng Binh, H. Tĩnh on August 8, 2016.4 Most Vietnamese were angry with the government’s slow response to Formosa Ha Tinh Steel’s toxic spill and believed the reason for this slow response to be the Vietnamese government’s corruption.5 Despite being only 7.6 percent of the population, Vietnamese Catholics joined environmentalists in addressing this issue. For instance, Catholic environmental activists Pastor Đặng Hữu Nam and blogger Mẹ Nấm questioned the transparency of the investigation process and advocated for justice for the poor.6 As a result of their activism, Mẹ Nấm, Pastor Nam and other activists were arrested and severely beaten.7

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