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    » 06/12/2013, 00.00

    VIETNAM - VATICAN

    Hanoi-Vatican talks starts as fourth meeting of Joint Working Group gets underway

    Nguyen Hung

    Starting today till Friday, a Vietnamese delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn will meet Under-Secretary for Relations with States Mgr Antonio Camilleri. In recent months, the Communist state has cracked down on human rights activists, Catholics included.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The fourth meeting of the Joint Vietnam-Holy See Working Group began this morning in Rome as part of ongoing talks between the Vatican and Hanoi to establish full diplomatic relations between the two sides. The Vietnamese delegation is led by Deputy Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn, who will meet Under-Secretary for Relations with States Mgr Antonio Camilleri, who heads the Vatican team.

    The third meeting was held in February 2012, in Hanoi, where it was decided that the next conference would take place in the Vatican. Progress in bilateral relations is expected at this venue, even problems connected to religious freedom persist in the Asian country.

    In recent months in fact, Vietnamese authorities have cracked down on activists, including Catholics, fighting for the greater democratisation of the nation, respect for property rights against forced evictions (also of Church assets), and amendments to the Constitution.

    Precisely on the issue of constitutional reform, Communist leaders and the seven million-strong Catholic community led by the Bishops' Council are at loggerheads. The bishops have in fact come out in favour of changes to the nation's charter that would establish a multi-party democracy.

    A significant step was taken on 1 March of this year when the prelates sent the authorities a report with "sincere suggestions" on how the nation should evolve. And Catholics have rallied around their bishops to support their efforts because they are key to real change.

    As a Vietnamese Catholic journalist put it, the bishops' opinions are "precise and concise".

    Critics note however that the government wants closer relations with the Vatican to gain its support, and that of the international community, for its development goals.

    For some, the relationship between Hanoi and the Vatican could even become a model for relations between China and the Holy See. However, if religious freedom and human rights are not included, discussions on fundamental values and principles are impossible.

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    See also

    24/02/2012 VATICAN - VIETNAM
    Holy See-Vietnam Working Group to meet in late February
    The meeting will take place in Hanoi on 27-28 February. The non-residential pontifical representative has already met almost all of the country's bishops and their respective communities. Tensions remain over religious freedom, compounded by corruption in high places.

    13/11/2012 VIETNAM - VATICAN - CHINA
    Vietnam-Holy See relations, a model for China-Vatican talks
    The establishment of a joint working group and the appointment of a (non-resident) representative opened up diplomatic channels. They could serve as an example to Beijing, which has so far failed to heed Chinese Catholics' pleas. Last week, Vietnamese and Vatican officials met.

    24/03/2014 VIETNAM - VATICAN
    Saigon: Archdiocese and faithful thank Card. Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man
    After 16 years of passionate service, the cardinal steps down on having reached retirement age. He is succeeded by the coadjutor bishop Msgr. Paul Bui Van Đọc. The Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City consists of more than 20 parishes for a total of 900 thousand faithful. 2014 dedicated to Evangelization of the family.

    18/06/2013 VIETNAM - VATICAN
    Vietnamese Catholics celebrate new auxiliary bishops in Vinh and Hung Hoa
    Prayers and celebrations welcome Pope Francis's decision to appoint Fr Alphonse Nguyen Huu Long and Fr Pierre Nguyen Van Vien. The first is an expert in canon law who served as rector of the major seminary in Hue; the second holds a doctorate in theology and was vicar general in the same diocese.

    22/06/2013 VIETNAM - VATICAN
    Year of Faith: Saigon celebrates 25th anniversary of Vietnamese martyrs canonization
    The parishes of the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City organize solemn masses. Cardinal Pham Minh Man: sign "of God's love for us," the martyrs "died for mission" in Vietnam. The celebrations were also joined by several parishes in Hanoi and Hue. The martyrs of yesterday example for the persecuted Christians of today.



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