01/23/2007, 00.00
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Diplomatic relations should not face obstacles anymore, says Card Pham Minh Man

by JB. VU
Speaking to AsiaNews, the archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City talks about his meeting with Vietnam’s president and their discussion about religious freedom and the Church’s role in the country’s development, especially in the areas of education and health care.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Vietnam “should not face obstacles anymore,” this according to Card Pham Minh Man, archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, who spoke to AsiaNews on the eve of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng’s visit to the Vatican, next Thursday, January 25. It is the first for the head of a Vietnamese government to visit the Pope.

“In November, I and some bishops met with the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyễn Minh Triết,” the cardinal said. “We discussed and exchanged points of view about religious freedom, property rights, the Church’s responsibilities towards the country’s development, especially in the areas of education and health care. The president promised that the government would gradually meet the right expectations”.

Dr Tran, a Catholic and president of the Institution of Accounting and Business Administration, said that “Vietnam joined the World Trade Organisation and needs to establish relations with the Vatican. And Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng and the Vietnamese delegation want a more ‘open door’ not only in terms of economic development but also in cultural and educational progress. And religious freedom? I think it is the time when Vietnam wants [to establish] relations.”

The cardinal agrees. “I think that through meetings and dialogue, the Vatican and the Vietnamese government will understand each better and their relations will improve. I also think that it is the time for official relations. Gradually, the issue of ties [with the Vatican] is taking shaped in the Socialist country and I believe that they will become real very soon.”

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