(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is ‘closely following’ developments in relations between the Holy See and Vietnam and is also encouraging Catholics in the country to continue to contribute to the common good and civil society. This is according to a statement released Thursday at the conclusion of the 5th meeting of the Viet Nam – Holy See Joint Working Group in Hanoi.
The Working Group’s mission is to explore the possibility of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two states.
According to the statement the meeting took place ‘in a sincere, candid and mutually respectful atmosphere’ with both sides noting positive developments in Viet Nam – Holy See relations, seen in increased exchanges and contacts at all levels.
These include the working visits of the Non-Resident Special Envoy in Viet Nam, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, who was appointed to the post in 2011 and has since made numerous visits to Viet Nam's Catholic community. He has also fostered dialogue with the Communist Authorities.
For its part, the Holy See delegation stressed that Pope Francis had followed with interest recent developments in Viet Nam – Holy See relations and encouraged the Catholic Community in Viet Nam to continue contributing torwards the country’s major goals.
The Vietnamese authorities confirmed their policy of respect for freedom of religion and belief and support for the Catholic Church in Viet Nam to actively participate in national social – economic development.
The first meeting of the Working Group was convened in Hanoi in February 2009. Until June this year, a total of three meetings had taken place since its establishment. The 4th meeting was held in the Vatican in June, less than three months ago. The date of the 6th meeting, which will take place in the Vatican, has yet to be decided.
Below the full statement
To implement the agreements reached during the 4th meeting of the Viet Nam – Holy See Joint Working Group in the Vatican in June 2013, the 5th meeting of the Joint Working Group took place in Hanoi on 10-11 September 2014. The Meeting was co-chaired by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, head of the Vietnamese delegation and Under Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, head of the Holy See delegation.
The Holy See delegation appreciated the support given by the competent authorities at all levels to the Catholic Church in Viet Nam for her accomplishment of mission. It also took note of the development in the religious policies of Viet Nam, reflected in the 2013 Amended Constitution. The Vietnamese State has facilitated working visits to Viet Nam by the Non-resident Special Envoy of the Holy See to Viet Nam, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli. The Holy See delegation reaffirmed that it attached great importance to the development of relations with Viet Nam in particular and Asia in general, as evidenced by the recent and coming papal trips to the continent. The Holy See reaffirmed its commitment towards the goal of establishing diplomatic relations with Viet Nam, and, together with the Catholic Church in the country, wishes to make more active contributions to the country’s development where the Catholic Church has strengths, for example health care, education, charity and humanitarian works. The Vietnamese side reiterated the consistent policy of the State and Party in respecting freedom of religion and belief of all people and supporting the Catholic Church in Viet Nam to actively participate in the national social – economic development.
The two sides emphasized again the underlying principles of “living the Gospel within the Nation” and “good Catholic being good citizens”. The Holy See delegation stressed that Pope Francis had followed with interest recent developments in Viet Nam – Holy See relations and encouraged the Catholic Community in Viet Nam to continue contributing forwards the country’s major goals.
The two sides noted with satisfaction the positive developments in Viet Nam – Holy See relations, which is shown by increased exchanges and contacts at all levels, meetings of the Joint Working Group and working visits of the Non-Resident Special Envoy in Viet Nam. They agreed on maintaining dialogue and contacts while creating favourable conditions for his mission, as he helps the Catholic Church in Viet Nam to implement papal teaching.
The meeting took place in a sincere, candid and mutually respectful atmosphere.
The two sides agreed to convene the 6th meeting of the Viet Nam – Holy See Joint Working Group in Vatican. The time of the meeting will be arranged through diplomatic channels.
On this occasion, the Holy See delegation paid courtesy call to the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh and met with the Deputy Minister of Home Affaires, Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs Pham Dung. It also took the opportunity to visit some Catholic institutions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
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