05/05/2008, 00.00
VIETNAM – VATICAN
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Hanoi waiting for Vatican delegation in the “near future”

by JB. VU
Diplomatic relations would benefit both Vietnam, which is opening up to the world, and the Holy See, which could address issues like religious freedom and fundamental human rights.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – A Vatican delegation is expected in the “near future” in Vietnam for a visit that might lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations.

For some time the Catholic press has emphasised Benedict XVI’s interest and affection for the countries of Asia. For their part Vietnamese newspapers have published many articles about the official meetings between Vatican and Vietnamese officials, especially the visit by Viet Nam’s Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng to the Pope on 25 January 2007.

For Vietnam’s it was an important moment. At the time the two parties agreed to follow a path that would lead to diplomatic relations. The prime minister also talked with the secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone, about problems of interest to both the Vatican and Vietnam.

Since 1989 Vatican delegations have made 14 trips to the South-East Asian country, beginning with the first one led by Card Roger Etchegaray. This is a token of the Vatican’s good will towards Vietnamese Catholics.

According to a Catholic university professor in Ho Chi Minh City, “we need to have diplomatic relations between the Catholic Church and Viet Nam’s government. I don’t think it is a moot question; I believe they will begin. Of course there are many issues and concerns that we must discuss and the exchange of representatives would make it possible to address them together while informing each other clearly and promptly.”

Currently Vietnam is portraying itself as a country on the eve of opening up to join the international community.

The country’s religious policy was set on 18 June 2004 and the Vatican must listen to the opinions expressed by lay people and religious communities on how laws on religious freedom and on human fundamental rights are applied.

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