Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Another, important step towards the "normalization" of relations between the Holy See and Vietnam. This i show today's visit with to Benedict XVI by the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Nguyên Phu Trong, is being read. The man, who is the real center of power in the country, arrived in the Vatican at a time when, in Vietnam, there are few tensions between the Church and the political authorities, the latest being the heavy prison sentences handed out to 13 Catholics and the destruction of the Carmelite convent in Hanoi.
Trong was received with full protocol - on arrival he was greeted in the courtyard of San Damaso by the prefect of the Pontifical Household, Msgr. Georg Gaenswein, the Pope came to greet him in the throne room - and a Vatican press release describes talks with Pope Benedict XVI ", and then with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, and Mgr. Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, as "friendly.
As for their content, the Vatican statement speaks of "the hope that some pending situations may be resolved and that the existing fruitful cooperation may be strengthened."
If the "pending situations" are reminiscent of the tensions between the Church and the authorities in Vietnam, the "fruitful cooperation" refers to the relations - not diplomatic - launched with the visit of Prime Minister Nguye'n Tan Dung (pictured) to the Vatican, January 25, 2007.
That meeting, came after more than 20 visits carried out since 1973 to Vietnam by Vatican delegations at various levels, which opened the possibility for the Holy See to appoint a "papal representative", although non-resident, after the interruption of diplomatic relations following the fall of Saigon in 1975.
The appointment of the Pope's representative - Msgr. Leopoldo Girelli - was accompanied by the possibility of regularizing the situation of the 26 dioceses of the country. After decades of hardship and vetoes, since 2008, the Holy See has appointed seven bishops and the bishops have ordained hundreds of priests, steps which had previously been fraught with difficulties. And Msgr. Girelli was able to visit all 26 dioceses in the country, meeting thousands of priests and hundreds of thousands of faithful.
Since February 2009, there has been a joint Vietnam-Vatican working group to study the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations.
All this seems to prevail in the Vatican over the protests in some Catholic circles against the Communist Party exponent visit with the Pope, the harassment against the Catholic Church and the decree, which came into force earlier this year, which provides the government tools to strengthen its control over religion. (FP)