06/03/2008, 00.00
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Hanoi and Holy See to discuss diplomatic relations and Church property

by JB. VU
Vatican representatives leave for Hanoi this week where the government appears set on discussing the issue of diplomatic relations. Church request for the return of its properties might be an obstacle.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Examining the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations, visiting some dioceses, the return of some Church properties and bishop appointments are some of the issues which the Vatican delegation leaving on Friday will discuss once in Vietnam.

Vietnamese officials have said that the delegation headed by Mgr Pietro Parolin, undersecretary for relations with states, will visit the diocese of Hanoi and Our Lady of La Vang shrine.

Our Lady of La Vang, where the Virgin appeared in 1798, is viewed as the protector of the poor and the defender against the threats of materialism and consumerism. As consequence the shrine has become a place where Catholics and non-Catholics come for help.

During its stay the Vatican delegation will also travel to the diocese of Da Lat, located in Vietnam’s plateau region, some 330 kilometres north of Ho Chi Minh City, home to many ethnic minorities who have slowly come to learn about the Good News and the Catholic religion.

Government sources said that talks will focus on examining the problems involved in establishing diplomatic relations. Once they are in place, the two sides should be able to exchange information quickly and clearly.

Despite recent positive steps such issues are not easy to solve though, the more so after some Vietnamese religious groups, in the diocese of Hanoi for example, have demanded the return of land and buildings seized by local authorities for socially relevant ends but which are now set to be used for commercial purposes.

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