Vatican-Vietnam Working Group Advances

Both Sides Report «Positive Developments»

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2010 ( The Holy See and Vietnam are reporting «positive developments» with regard to the advancement of diplomatic relations between the two sides.

A statement released Saturday by the Vatican press office reported that the two-day meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Join Working Group, held last Wednesday and Thursday at the Vatican, saw «positive developments since the first meeting of the Joint Working Group,» which was held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February 2009.

A special note was made of the meeting last December between Benedict XVI and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet. At that time, the Vatican called the visit «a significant stage in the progress of bilateral relations with Vietnam.»

«The two sides also had in-depth and comprehensive discussions on bilateral diplomatic relations,» the note continued. «In order to deepen the relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, as well as the bonds between the Holy See and the local Catholic Church, it was agreed that, as a first step, a non-resident Representative of the Holy See for Vietnam will be appointed by the Pope.»

Also discussed at the meeting were «international issues and those related to bilateral relations and to the Catholic Church in Vietnam.»

«The Vietnamese side recalled its consistent policy of respect for freedoms of religion and belief as well as the legal provisions to guarantee its implementation,» the statement said. «The Delegation of the Holy See took note of this explanation and asked that further conditions be established so that the Church may participate effectively in the development of the country, especially in the spiritual, educational, healthcare, social and charitable fields.

«The Delegation of the Holy See also mentioned that the Church in her teaching invites the faithful to be good citizens and therefore to work for the common good of the population.»

The communiqué reported that both the Holy See and Vietnam «noted encouraging developments in various areas of Catholic life in Vietnam, especially in relation to the Jubilee Year,» which is under way in the country through Jan. 6, 2011. The year marks 350 years since the establishment of Vietnam’s first two apostolic vicariates and 50 years since the hierarchy was put in place.

The note also added that the address Benedict XVI gave at the conclusion of the last five-yearly «ad limina» visit of the Vietnamese bishops, and the Holy Father’s message to the Catholic Church in Vietnam on the occasion of the Jubilee Year, «would serve as an orientation for the Catholic Church in Vietnam in the years ahead.»

The meeting was co-chaired by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, undersecretary for the relations with states, and Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Vietnam’s vice minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Vatican statement reported that the third meeting will be held in Vietnam, but that no date had been set.

There are an estimated 6 million Catholics in Vietnam, which constitutes 8% of the population.

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