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Vatican and Vietnam continue meetings

VATICAN (SE): A delegation from the Holy See, headed by the undersecretary of state, Archbishop Antoine Camilleri, met with a delegation from Vietnam, led by Bui Thanh Son, the permanent deputy minister of foreign affairs, at the Vatican from October 24 to 26 with a view to establishing full diplomatic relations.

High on the agenda for the Vatican was the question of religious freedom, particularly in the context of the Church’s freedom to carry out its mission in the nation of 95.3 million people with a sizeable seven per cent Catholic population.

A joint statement released after the meeting acknowledges a broad exchange of views on the situation in Vietnam, as well as relations with the Holy See and the Catholic Church in the country.

“The Vietnamese side reiterated the consistent and practical improvement of the legal framework and policies on the promotion and protection of people’s freedom of belief and religion; encouragement and continued facilitation of the active engagement of the Catholic Church in Vietnam in the national cause of socio-economic development,” the report released at the conclusion of the meeting says.

“The Holy See, while reaffirming the freedom of the Church to carry out its mission for the good of the whole of society, expressed appreciation to the Vietnamese government for the attention given to the needs of the Catholic Church, as recently witnessed through the establishment of the Catholic Institute of Vietnam and for the assistance in the organisation of important ecclesial ceremonies and events,” it reads.

The statement continues, saying, “The two sides agreed that the Catholic Church in Vietnam will continue to be inspired by the magisterium of the Church regarding the practice of living the gospel in the nation and being, at the same time, good Catholics and good citizens.”

The Holy See reaffirms, “Pope Francis has a keen interest in the development of Vietnam-Holy See relations and it looks forward to the continued and invaluable contribution offered by the Catholic community, in cooperation with other actors in Vietnamese society, and in accordance with the applicable laws, to national development and the promotion of the common good.”

The press release acknowledges progress made in Vietnam-Holy See relations, including regular contact and consultations, the exchange of high level delegations and frequent pastoral visits to Vietnam by the papal representative and non-resident special envoy, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, from Singapore.

“The meeting took place in an atmosphere of cordiality, frankness and mutual respect. The two sides agreed to maintain constructive dialogue, in a spirit of good will with a view to increasing mutual understanding and further promoting relations between the two sides. They also agreed to convene the Seventh Meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working group in Hanoi. The date of the meeting will be arranged through diplomatic channels,” the statement concludes.

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