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.
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.
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.
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.
Vietnamese Catholic journalist put it, the bishops' opinions are "precise and
note however that the government wants closer relations with the Vatican to gain
its support, and that of the international community, for its development
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