02/18/2009, 00.00
VIETNAM - VATICAN
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Church's situation in Vietnam is the focal point of diplomatic relations

This is highlighted by statements today from the head of the Committee for Religious Affairs, who, in an interview, stresses that "no one must influence" the principle according to which the Church must "take the same road as the nation," and calls for "respect" for the country's laws and traditions.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The difficulties that the Church is facing in Vietnam, and not only the establishing of diplomatic relations, are part of talks between the Hanoi government and the delegation from the Holy See that is visiting the country. Official confirmation comes from the president of the Committee for Religious Affairs, Nguyen The Doanh, in an interview published today by the state news agency VNS, highlighting the obstacles that Hanoi is setting up against normalized relations with the Vatican, in spite of the government's desire to achieve this.

Clarifying what are the true problems that so far have blocked the formalization of diplomatic relations is the fact - significant in itself - that the person talking about a possible exchange of ambassadors is not the foreign minister, but the government official who deals with domestic religious questions. The official made a rather cryptic statement that echoes the threats repeatedly issued against the archbishop of Hanoi, Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, and in general against those who fight for full respect for religious freedom. Nguyen The Doanh said that the Vatican and Vietnam "must be determined to pursue clear and healthy development, in which the maintenance and affirmation of the Vietnamese Catholic Church 'taking the same road as the nation' is of special and important significance. It should not be affected by negative thoughts and acts from any third party."

Apart from this, his tone was distinctly positive, with specific references to the fact that since 1990 - or since the "new course" taken by Vietnam, which has set out on a road of "openness" - representatives from Hanoi and the Vatican have met 18 times, 16 of them, before the current one, in Vietnam. "It can also be confirmed that dialogue is the most suitable form of creating a friendly environment for the two sides to better understand each other and to jointly solve the issues of mutual concern for the common interest of each side. That is why the two sides are largely satisfied with the meetings."

Despite this, "in my opinion, the most important factors that help boost the bilateral relations include, first of all, mutual respect, including respect for Vietnam’s independence and sovereignty, history, culture, traditions and laws; the sharing of and mutual respect for the differences along with the demonstration of goodwill in search of new ties between the two sides."

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