The statement following the seventh meeting of the Joint Working Group mentions "positive developments" in relations. With respect to the local Catholic Church, the statement cites Pope Francis’s view that “A good Catholic is also a good citizen”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The seventh meeting of the Viet Nam-Vatican Joint Working Group took place in Hanoi yesterday "in a cordial and mutually respectful atmosphere.” The main point of the statement that followed noted that there will be a resident nuncio in Hanoi "in the near future".
"The two sides noted that relations between Viet Nam and the Holy See have recently witnessed positive developments, particularly the maintenance of regular contacts and consultation at all levels, including high-level meetings as well as exchanges as part of the Viet Nam – Holy See Joint Working Group meetings and ecclesiastical visits to Viet Nam by the Non-Resident Pontifical Representative Archbishop Marek Zalewski.”
"The two sides discussed and reached an agreement on relevant matters towards upgrading relations in the near future between Viet Nam and the Holy See from Non-Permanent Pontifical Representative to Permanent Pontifical Representative. They shared the belief that this step will help relations between the two sides grow and develop further."
With respect to the Catholic Church in Vietnam, which today represents about 7 per cent of the population, "The two sides reiterated the Pope’s message to the Catholic community in Viet Nam of ‘Living the Gospel in the heart of the Nation’ and ‘A good Catholic is also a good citizen’ as important principles for the life of the Catholic community in Viet Nam.
"The Holy See expressed its appreciation and gratitude to the Vietnamese side for the attention that the Vietnamese authorities have accorded to the Catholic Church in Viet Nam in recent years. The Holy See pays keen attention to the rich and active Catholic life in the country and encourages the Catholic Church in Viet Nam to contribute to the common good and the prosperity of Viet Nam.
"The Vietnamese side reiterated that the Vietnamese Party and State are consistently implementing and tirelessly improving the policy framework respecting and ensuring freedom of beliefs and religion of the people; encouraging and facilitating the Catholic community to operate in accordance with Vietnamese law, and to participate actively in national economic and social development and construction."
No official reference was made to the problems that the Vietnamese Church faces as it tries to defend its properties from repeated attacks by the authorities. There is no mention of violent incidents against Church buildings and Catholics.
"The two sides also discussed issues concerning the partition of dioceses and the appointment of bishops in Viet Nam. [. . .] The two sides agreed to hold the Eighth Session of the Viet Nam – Holy See Joint Working Group in the Vatican. The date of the Session shall be arranged through diplomatic channels.
“On this occasion, the Holy See delegation also paid a courtesy call to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the Chairman of the Government Committee on Religious Affairs Vu Chien Thang. The Delegation also attended the installation of the Archbishop of Hanoi, H.E. Msgr. Joseph Vu Van Thien.” (FP)