06/28/2010, 00.00
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Joy and some concern among Catholics over Vatican-Hanoi meeting

by Nguyen Hung
Most Vietnamese faithful think that the appointment of a papal representative will open new spaces for religious freedom, but some highlight the absence of Vietnamese bishops from discussions, fearing a "weakening" of the Episcopal Conference.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The news of the agreement reached between the Hanoi authorities and the Holy See for "the Papal appointment of a non-resident representative from the Holy See to Vietnam" has been greeted with joy, but also with some concern, by the Catholics of Vietnam.

Most Vietnamese Catholics express "joy and satisfaction", in the belief that the Vatican policy is good, as long as it always listens and respects the opinions of people and at the same time, moves in the interest of the universal, and local, Church. The Papal appointment of a non-resident representative from the Holy See to Vietnam has attracted a lot of attention as a significant step towards the normalization of relations and the passage of the June 26 joint statement in which the Holy See asks " additional conditions are insured allowing the Church to participate more effectively in the country's development, especially within the spiritual, educational, health, social and charitable fields".

On the other hand, some priests and faithful speaking to AsiaNews fear that Vietnam and the Vatican have only focused on the "diplomatic" perspective.  The bishops of the 26 Vietnamese diocese and the Episcopal Conference had no voice in the meeting of the Joint Vietnam - Holy See Working Group, and for this reason that "they" are not representative of the fundamental rights of Vietnamese Catholics. This way of working has thus imposed a "new order", but not a "new life" on Vietnamese Catholics.

Moreover the fact, that the Holy See representative must reside in a third country, may be a "new door" for the two "Countries" to control the Vietnamese bishops and the Vatican would not be able to hear the true voice of the faithful living in society. Some group of Vietnamese Catholics finally argue that now "the bishops' conference is weaker".

In this regards they point to how in the joint statement, issued without comment by the official VNA, it is reported that the Vietnamese delegation, "recalled Vietnam’s policy of respect for freedom of religion and belief as well as legal measures to guarantee its implementation".  This statement contrasts with the many violations of religious freedom, many of which have taken place recently and which recalls the "unfairness" of the communist government.

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