Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng’s January 25 visit to the Vatican has been well received in Vietnam’s Catholic community. Vietnamese media has also reported that Mr Dũng wants to see Vietnam establish full diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
Speaking about this possibility, Father Peter from Vuon Xoai parish told AsiaNews that “Vietnamese Catholics place great hope in that happening fir it would greatly benefit Catholics. Even though there are no diplomatic relations as yet, the local Church and the Vatican examine every year the question of bishop appointments in the Vietnamese Church.”
A government official named Tran said that “Vietnam has diplomatic relations with more than 160 countries around the world and now wants and must establish them with the Vatican. For Vietnamese Catholics it would be a dream come true to have a Vatican diplomat in the country who could promote our culture and solidarity between people.”
Ms Huế, a social worker and member of the committee for social and pastoral action in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh An Thuong parish, told AsiaNews that her group “began helping poor and unfortunate children.” But “in reality,” she stressed, “Catholic youth are not too affected by social problems because they are involved in positive activities like choirs, youth associations, Mary’s Children, Jesus’ Children, Gospel study groups, social work and others. Our activities provide young people a cultural and moral framework that helps the development of the country’s ethical values and counter social problems among the young.”
“In our city,” she added, “there are 40 AIDS/HIV cases, thousands and thousands of abortions among young people, more than 22,000 drug addicts. Hence, we Catholics need a spiritual anchor in our lives under socialism”.
For Tuan, a young man from Duc Tin parish, the PM’s visit to the Pope represents “a good and lucky opportunity for religions in Vietnam. Based on the meeting’s results, it will open greater spaces for freedom of religion.”
Tuan noted that the Tuổi Trẻ newspaper called the first visit by a Vietnamese head of government to the Pope “an historic moment for Vietnam”. “Now we have great expectations for the Church in our country.”
In its coverage Tuổi Trẻ wrote that “during the meeting Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng said that Vietnam is engaged in an ongoing process of review about diplomatic relations with the Catholic Church. The two parties meet on annual basis to exchange views on important issues for the life on the Church in Vietnam. For Vietnam such relations are important.”
“The Holy Father Benedict XVI and Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng also discussed major political issues and the actual and constantly improving situation of freedom of religion in Vietnam. The Prime Minister stated that he wanted to see full diplomatic relations established between Vietnam and the Vatican.”
Photo: credit CPP