02/27/2012, 00.00
VIETNAM - VATICAN
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Holy See and Vietnam discuss opening of diplomatic relations

by Nguyen Hung
Third meeting of the Joint Working Group begins today in Hanoi. The Church of Vietnam, concerned about the repeated violence by local authorities against the faithful and religious, accompanies talks with prayer.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The third meeting of the Vietnam-Vatican Joint Working Group to investigate the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations between the socialist country and the Holy See began today in Hanoi. The Vietnamese delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, while the Vatican delegation is headed by Undersecretary for Relations with States Archbishop. Ettore Balestrero. The Commission meets in Hanoi today, February 27, and tomorrow. The Vietnamese Church is accompanying their work in prayer; it expects that nobody wants to jeopardize the future of the Vietnamese Church, and hopes for good news of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Holy See.

The Church also prays for peace and justice in the country. Local authorities, particularly in remote and mountainous areas, still employ religious persecution citizens and Catholics in particular. And many faithful live in fear. It seems that members of different religions do not enjoy security.

On February 23, Fr Gonzaga Luy Gonzaga Nguyễn Quang Hoa, (pictured), curate of the parish of Kon Hring, after having celebrated the funeral in the village of Kon Hnong, in the province of Kontum, was beaten by three thugs linked to local authorities while returning to his  parish. They attacked him with iron bars on the head and back, and fled. The bishop Micae Hoàng Đức Oanh and other priests have visited the injured priest.

Local authorities now appear to use "groups of hooligans", sometimes armed, to exercise violence against religious believers or those who have opinions different from theirs. Vietnamese Catholics are now also having to pray for safety and peace. On the first Sunday of Lent, many Catholics and non Catholics gathered at the Redemptorists house to pray for true peace and justice in Vietnam. They prayed for the bishops and religious in Vietnam and for communion in the Church.

Peter, a parishioner of the Diocese of Hai Phong, told AsiaNews that "now the whole country is worried about the case of Đoàn Văn Vuong and his family. They are Catholics, who have always lived and worked in peace in their communities. But local authorities destroyed their home and illegally confiscated their land, with the help of armed men. Vietnamese Catholics pray for them, and they pray for local authorities, so that one day our country and our people will live without violence and injustice. "

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