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» 06/12/2013
VIETNAM - VATICAN
Hanoi-Vatican talks starts as fourth meeting of Joint Working Group gets underway
by 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
02/24/2012 VATICAN - VIETNAM
Holy See-Vietnam Working Group to meet in late February
11/13/2012 VIETNAM - VATICAN - CHINA
Vietnam-Holy See relations, a model for China-Vatican talks
by J.B. Vu
03/24/2014 VIETNAM - VATICAN
Saigon: Archdiocese and faithful thank Card. Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man
by Trung Tin
06/18/2013 VIETNAM - VATICAN
Vietnamese Catholics celebrate new auxiliary bishops in Vinh and Hung Hoa
by Paul N. Hung
06/22/2013 VIETNAM - VATICAN
Year of Faith: Saigon celebrates 25th anniversary of Vietnamese martyrs canonization
by Thanh Thuy

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pp. 176
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