Holy See Delegation Visits Vietnam


VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2008 - The Holy See Press Office released the following communique today, concerning the visit of a delegation of the Holy See to Vietnam.

"The Holy See delegation - made up of Msgr. Pietro Parolin under-secretary for Relations with States; Msgr. Luis Mariano Montemayor, nunciature counsellor at the Secretariat of State, and Msgr. Barnabe Nguyen Van Phuong, bureau chief at the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples - visited Vietnam from 9 to 15 June, and returned to Rome yesterday. ... Their programme involved a series of meetings with the government authorities, both at central and local level, and with the Catholic community".

"The working sessions with the government's Office for Religious Affairs, presided by Nguyen The Doanh, enabled discussions to be held, in a frank and cordial atmosphere, on various aspects of the life and activity of the Church in the country, particularly as concerns episcopal appointments, the gradual restoration of formerly-nationalised property to Church use, the application of norms on religious freedom, the contribution of Catholics to human promotion, the spread of a culture of solidarity towards the weakest sectors of the population, and the moral education of future generations.

"The delegation was received by Pham Gia Khiem, deputy-prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, with whom views were exchanged on the current international situation with reference, above all, to the seat as a non- permanent member of the U.N. Security Council that Vietnam will occupy for the first time this July. ... Attention also turned to the hoped-for normalisation of bilateral relations, with a view to which it is expected that the Working Group - charged with defining times and means - will begin its work as soon as possible".

"The delegation then met with Nguyen The Thao, president of the Popular Committee of Hanoi, and with the vice-presidents of the Popular Committees of the provinces of Lam Dong, Thua Thien Hue and Quang Tri. With the former, mention was made, among other things, of the events that involved numerous faithful from the archdiocese at the end of last year and the beginning of 2008. In this context, consideration was given (as it has been on various other occasions) to the importance of continuing to pacify the situation, avoiding measures that may create contrary effects, and to maintain dialogue between interested parties in the search for adequate solutions that take into account the needs of justice, of charity and of the common good. ... The delegation expressed its gratitude to the local authorities of the province of Quang Tri for their decision to return the land around the Marian shrine of La Vang to Church use, and for their will to face, along with the archdiocese of Hue, the outstanding problems for the effective implementation of the decision".

"A particularly moving moment was the visit and Mass at the Marian shrine of La Vang. The delegation, ... along with participants from the archdiocese of Hue from other dioceses in Vietnam and from abroad, prayed that that place, so dear to Vietnamese Catholics and venerated even by non-Catholics, may become ever more a centre of unity and reconciliation for all the inhabitants of that beloved country, without ethnic, religious or political distinction".