VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- More than a year after the first meeting, the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group will meet for a second time.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, reported today that the working group will meet in the Vatican on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The aim of the meeting is to strengthen and develop bilateral relations, as declared at the end of the group’s first meeting, which took place in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi on Feb. 17, 2009,” he said.
In January 2007, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made a historic visit to Benedict XVI. The Vatican press office then described the visit as making “a new and important step toward the normalization of bilateral relations.”
Then last December, the Pope received Vietnam’s president, Nguyen Minh Triet, which the Vatican called at the time “a significant stage in the progress of bilateral relations with Vietnam.”
A jubilee year is under way in the country through Jan. 6, 2011, to mark 350 years since the establishment of Vietnam’s first two apostolic vicariates and 50 years since the hierarchy was put in place.
Pope Alexander VII established the vicariates of Dang Ngoai (Tonkin) and Dang Trong (Cochinchine) on Sept. 9, 1659. Bishops Francois Pallu and Lambert de la Motte, both from France, were the prelates.
Then, on Nov. 24, 1960, Blessed Pope John XXIII established the Catholic hierarchy in Vietnam, elevating Ha Noi, Hue and Sai Gon (now Ho Chi Minh City) to archdioceses.
There are an estimated 6 million Catholics in Vietnam, which constitutes 8% of the population and makes it the largest Catholic community in Asia.
The Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with 178 states. The Holy See is also present in the United Nations with permanent observer status, and is a member of seven U.N. organizations or agencies, an observer in eight others, and a member or observer in five regional organizations.