Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vietnam and Vatican discuss Diplomatic Ties

(February 20, 2009) The Holy See and Vietnam have laid a “good basis” for establishing diplomatic relations during annual meetings this week, although no target has been set, a Vatican envoy said on Thursday. The meeting was held in a “very frank and open atmosphere,” Monsignor Pietro Parolin, the Vatican under-secretary for Relation with States told reporters after meeting with Nguyen The Doanh, head of Vietnam's religious affairs commission. Tensions have existed between the Vietnamese government and religious organizations for years. Communist authorities closely monitor religious groups and insist on approving most church appointments. But recently, relations between Hanoi and the Holy See have begun to thaw. Talks between the government and Vatican have been held since 1990, but the latest round marked the first meeting of a working group studying the renewal of diplomatic ties. “We have already set up good basis for further progress,” Msgr. Parolin said, adding that it was impossible to say how long the process would take. “The outcome will be diplomatic relations,” he added. He also told reporters he hoped the Pope might come to Vietnam this year, although no plans had been made for a visit. The working group held its first sessions on Monday and Tuesday, when Msgr. Parolin met Vice Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Cuong. Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Dung said this week's meeting was an “important step” in the development of relations between Vietnam and the Vatican. Msgr. Parolin's delegation is scheduled to visit two dioceses in northern Vietnam later this week before returning to Rome on Sunday. Vietnam has one of Asia's largest Catholic populations, with more than 6 million followers.

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Link to related story about Vietnamese government oppressing Catholics, as usual.

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