Thích Thanh Toàn, who was the abbot of Nga Hoàng Temple in Vĩnh Phúc Province's Tam Đảo District, asked to be defrocked after a sex scandal. — Photo phatgiao.org.vn
VĨNH PHÚC — The People’s Committee of northern Vĩnh Phúc Province’s Tam Đảo District has asked the provincial authority to revoke the land which has been used illegally by Thích Thanh Toàn, a Buddhist monk who reportedly requested sexual favours from a female journalist.
The request was made after the committee completed a report on Toàn’s violations on illegal trading and use of land at Nga Hoàng Temple, where he has been the abbot since 2008.
Nga Hoàng Temple, located in Hợp Châu Commune, covers an area of more than 20,900 square metres. Since 2008, Toàn has purchased more than 5,790 square metres of farmland around the temple and transferred the use of land without informing local authorities as regulated.
Some worshipping sites have been built on parts of the land.
At a meeting with the Việt Nam Buddhist Sangha on October 5, Toàn asked the Buddhist authority to allow him to be defrocked and claim the land as his own property.
Toàn said he borrowed money to repair and build worshipping areas in the temple when he was the abbot. He wanted to keep the land to be able to pay those debts.
The Tam Đảo District People’s Committee said the land should be handled and managed by a local authority.
On October 3, Nguyễn Thanh Quang, deputy director of the provincial Department of Home Affairs and head of the provincial Religious Affairs Department said the local authority warned Toàn about the illegal use of farm land but was ignored.
Toàn, the abbot of Nga Hoàng Temple in Tam Đảo District, was accused of sexual harassment and requesting sexual favours from a female journalist when she was covering a local real estate company.
Toàn admitted his wrongdoings to Buddhist authorities on September 28. He has been suspended from his position.
The provincial Vietnam Buddhist Sangha approved his proposal to quit. — VNS