Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Marek Zalewski as the first Resident Papal Representative in Vietnam, according to the Holy See’s announcement on December 23, as reported by VNA.
Archbishop Marek Zalewski, who joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1995, has served in various countries. He was appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore and the non-resident Papal Representative in Vietnam in 2018.
During his tenure as the non-resident Papal Representative in Vietnam, he visited and conducted pastoral activities in almost all dioceses of the Catholic Church in Vietnam. He also met with representatives from ministries, sectors, and local administrations nationwide.
|Archbishop Marek Zalewski, first Resident Papal Representative in Vietnam. Photo: Vietnam Episcopal Council
Vietnam and the Holy See have made progress in bilateral relations, particularly since establishing a regular dialogue mechanism through their Joint Working Group in 2009. Numerous meetings and discussions between Vietnamese leaders and representatives of the Holy See have taken place, including a recent meeting between Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong and Pope Francis in 2023.
Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have sent allocutions and messages to the Catholic Church in Vietnam, emphasizing the importance of living as “good Christians and good citizens” and encouraging Catholics to lead exemplary secular and religious lives. They also urged Catholics to contribute actively to local and national socio-economic development.
In the 10th session of the Joint Working Group between Vietnam and the Holy See in March 2023, both sides essentially agreed on the Status of the Resident Papal Representative and the Office of the Resident Papal Representative in Vietnam. This status was officially adopted during President Thuong’s visit to the Holy See in July 2023.
These actions mark a significant milestone in bilateral relations and are the result of active exchanges of opinions conducted with mutual respect, cooperation, and understanding.
They also reflect the consistent policy of the Vietnamese State in respecting and ensuring the right to freedom of religion and belief, as well as creating favorable conditions for religious activities.
|Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong meets with Pope Francis on July 27 during his visit to the Vatican. Photo: VNA
The appointment of Archbishop Marek Zalewski as the first Resident Papal Representative in Vietnam is expected to enhance the connection between the Holy See and the Catholic Church in Vietnam, as well as promote exchanges of opinions between Vietnam and the Holy See.
In an interview given to VNA on December 24, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Vu Chien Thang emphasized that Pope Francis’s letter to the People of God in Vietnam in September and the appointment of the Resident Papal Representative open a new chapter in the relations between Vietnam and the Vatican, particularly between the Vietnam Catholic Church and the Universal Church.
The deputy minister further stressed that upgrading relations not only demonstrates the good foreign policy of the Vietnamese Party and State but also shows Vietnam’s recognition of the Vatican’s goodwill and positive guidance toward Vietnamese Catholics. It also highlights the attention of the Vietnamese Party and State to Catholic followers, encouraging dignitaries and followers to abide by the law and support authorities at all levels.
In his letter, Pope Francis urged Vietnamese Catholics to be “good Christians and good citizens,” emphasizing that the Church does not seek to replace government leaders and emphasizing the spirit of national unity and religious solidarity.
The deputy minister added that President Vo Van Thuong’s invitation for Pope Francis to visit Vietnam reflects the goodwill of the Vietnamese State. “The Vietnamese State, the Vietnam Catholic Church, and the Vietnamese people are delighted with the news and eagerly await the Pope’s visit.