Monday, March 05, 2007

Vatican delegation arrives

A Vatican delegation arrived in Vietnam March 5 for a one-week visit, led by Msgr. Pietro Parolin, undersecretary for Relations with States – the Vatican's "deputy foreign minister". Also in the Vatican delegation are Msgr. Luis Mariano Montemayor of the Vatican Secretariat of State and Msgr. Barnabe Nguyen Van Phuong of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Among the issues to be discussed are the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Vatican; the appointment of bishops for three vacant dioceses in the country; the process of gaining government approval for priests ordination; the return of church property confiscated decades ago; allowing the church to resume its educational and social welfare activities of the past; and problems such as the reported mistreatment of Catholics in northwestern Vietnam, and the arrest of Fr. Nguyen Van Ly in Hue for his dissident activities.

This is the 15th round of talks between the Vatican and Hanoi. In January PM Nguyen Tan Dung met with Pope Benedict in Rome, and it is speculated by some that Vatican-Vietnam relations will improve substantially over the period of Pope John Paul II. Nevertheless, longstanding problems remain, particularly the government control over the ordination of priests and the appointment of bishops.

Sources: UCAN news, Feb. 28; Zenit news March 2; BBC news March 5; Associated Press, March 5; VNA/Nhan Dan, March 5.


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