07/24/2009, 00.00
VIETNAM-VATICAN
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The President and the Government of Vietnam will visit the Vatican

by Thanh Thuy
The news is given by Cardinal Pham Minh Man and confirmed by the government. The hope of the Catholics is to meet with Benedict XVI on the occasion of the special jubilee anniversary, which starts in November this year and ends Epiphany of 2011. New pastoral impetus in wake of bishops ad limina visit.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Diplomatic relations and, perhaps, an invitation to Benedict XVI to visit Vietnam next year, where even John Paul II failed to make it. These are the hopes of Vietnamese Catholics spurred on by the news, given by Cardinal JB. Pham Minh Man and confirmed by the authorities, that in November a government delegation will visit the Vatican and the following month the President will meet the Pope.

The visit of the Vietnamese delegation has an important precedent; on 25 January 2007 Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (pictured) was received at the Vatican. At that time it seemed that many of the issues which divide the two parties could have been resolved and that and that there was the possibility of establishing normal diplomatic relations on the horizon. It was not to be and Vietnamese Catholics continue to experience difficult times.

Relations between Vietnam and the Vatican, were not interrupted however and regular visits to the nation by a Holy See delegation continued. Now the government says that "a delegation of the Government of Vietnam will visit the Vatican in November 2009to discuss some issues involving  relations on both sides, and on December 2009  Vietnam’s President will meet and for an exchange of views with the Holy Father Benedict XVI for the relations in a near future. "

For Catholics in Vietnam, the bishops ad limina visit in June of this year was a particularly important event. On that occasion, the chairman of the Bishops Conference, Msgr. Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon, had expressed the hope that the pope might one day visit the country and recalled that the Church will celebrate a special Vietnamese jubilee year from 24 November 2009, the Solemnity of the martyrs of the country, to the Epiphany of 2011. Clearly the hope of Catholics is to see the Pope at that time, while the Vatican has said that next year, Benedict XVI will undertake a journey to Asia.

The ad Limina visit of the Vietnamese bishops, moreover, in the words of Card. Pham Minh Man, has borne important fruits for the Church which “has a new vision to bring the Good News to all in a socialist country”.  The Pope spoke of the Church of Jesus who "lives with and among our people." This has a special meaning, it is also a pastoral plan for the bishops in Vietnam today.

The website of the Church of Vietnam has announced that the Pope's message will be translated into Vietnamese, so it can be read by all. Some Catholics have been pleased to hear that the Church of Jesus "does not intended to replace the government, instead it seeks - in a spirit of dialogue and respectful cooperation - to take part in the life of the nation, serving all people”.  It proclaims the Good News, primarily through the fundamental values of morality in the lifestyle it promotes. In every environment, in every sphere of society, economical and political. We express faith in God and the Church follows the love of Jesus and serves for life, ours and that of our brothers and sisters.

Through this lesson, Vietnamese Catholics have experienced that you can communicate and respect one another. The cardinal affirmed that "after 30 years we have communicated with the government, after the decades of “living together”, Catholics and communists understand with one another more.  Many Catholics have recognized that communists are fellow-citizen and brothers  in a home. Many communists also have noted that real Catholics are not hostility, but this is also a member of the people community. We can co-operate together for the stable development".

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