State President Vo Van Thuong visited the Holy See on Thursday and the two sides reached an agreement on the status of the Resident Papal Representative in Vietnam.
During meetings between President Vo Van Thuong and Pope Francis, along with the Vatican’s secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the two sides noted the positive progress in Vietnam – Holy See relations and the activities of the Vietnamese Catholic community in recent years.
Vietnam and the Holy See concluded the “agreement on the status of the Resident Papal Representative and the Office of the Resident Papal Representative in Vietnam.”
In a joint statement, Thuong and Pope Francis said the conclusion of the agreement was “an important step.”
The Vietnamese side pledged it would help facilitate the activities of the resident representative. The Pope emphasized that the adoption of the statute is a model of mutual trust and a basis for further promoting and expanding relations in the coming time.
Both sides expressed their confidence that the Resident Papal Representative will fulfill the role and mandate given in the Agreement, provide support to the Vietnamese Catholic community in their undertakings in the spirit of the law and, always inspired by the Magisterium of the Church, to fulfill the vocation of “accompanying the nation” and to be “good Catholics and good citizens,” according to Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the meeting with Pope Francis, Thuong said he appreciated recent positive developments in the Vietnam – Holy See relationship.
Thuong affirmed that Vietnam’s consistent stance is to respect and ensure freedom of belief and religion, and to constantly perfect the legal framework to facilitate religious activities, including Catholicism.
Thuong welcomed the positive contributions of the Vietnamese Catholic community in charity, education, healthcare and vocational activities.
Pope Francis said President Thuong’s visit was an opportunity for the two sides to discuss the Catholic situation in Vietnam and the relationship between Vietnam and the Holy See. The Pope expressed his affection for the country and people of Vietnam, and his special concern for the Catholic community in the country.
A delegation from The Holy See has visited Vietnam annually since 1990.
In January 2007, former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met with former Pope Benedict XVI and Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the first high-level contact between the two sides. In November 2008, the two sides agreed to establish a joint working group on Vietnam-Vatican relations.
The Holy See has had a non-resident papal representative in Vietnam since 2011. Currently, the position is held by Archbishop Marek Zalewski, Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore.
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