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Vietnam – Holy See Relations Grows Well

Vietnam attaches great importance to all resources, including those contributed by religious organisations, to the country’s development.

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Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang (R) and Monsignor Miroslaw Wachowski, Under-Secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States, at the meeting in the Vatican. Photo: VNA
Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang (R) and Monsignor Miroslaw Wachowski, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, at the meeting in the Vatican. Photo: VNA

The Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group held the 10th-round meeting in the Vatican on March 31 under the co-chair of Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang and Monsignor Mirosław Stanisław Wachowski, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, VNA reported Saturday.

In the spirit of friendship, mutual understanding, and mutual respect, the two sides discussed the Vietnam – Holy See relations and issues related to the Vietnam Catholic Church.

Hang affirmed Vietnam’s consistent policy of respecting and ensuring people’s freedom of belief and religion, and that administrations at all levels have always paid attention to and created favourable conditions for activities of religions, including Catholicism.

She proposed the Holy See pay attention to and guide the Catholic community of Vietnam to stay attached to and stand side by side with the State and people, contribute to the country’s development, and bring into play the fine cultural and ethical values of Catholicism, thereby helping to promote the Vietnam – Holy See ties.

Wachowski noted that the Holy See always hopes that the Vietnam Catholic Church operates in line with Vietnam’s law and actively contributes to the country’s development in conformity with the Church’s teachings of “living the gospel amidst the nation” and that “a good Catholic must be a good citizen”.

The 10th-round meeting of the Vietnam - Holy See Joint Working Group on March 31. Photo: VNA
The 10th-round meeting of the Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group on March 31. Photo: VNA

At the meeting, the two sides shared the view that the relations between Vietnam and the Holy See have recorded much progress in the recent past as seen in the regular meetings and consultations, high-level delegation exchanges, and frequent pastoral visits by Archbishop Marek Zalewski, Non-Resident Pontifical Representative and Special Envoy of the Holy See, to Vietnam.

They also discussed and basically agreed on the working regulations for the Holy See’s Resident Representative and Resident Representative Office in Vietnam.

On this occasion, Hang had a meeting with Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

Delegates pose for a group photo. Photo: VNA
Delegates pose for a group photo. Photo: VNA

In March, the Government Committee for Religious Affairs released the white book on religions and religious policies in Vietnam at a conference held by the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications in Hanoi.

A 132-page book consists of three chapters, providing introduction to basic information about religions in Vietnam, its religious policies as well as achievements, challenges and advantages in ensuring the right to freedom of belief and religion.

The book introduces 16 popular religions in Vietnam, including Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Caodaism, and Hoa Hao Buddhism, among others.

It also presents the Communist Party of Vietnam’s view on beliefs and religions during the renewal period, the right to freedom of belief and religion stipulated in the country’s Constitution, regulations on religious activities in current legal documents.

The first Constitution in 1946 and its revised editions always affirm that, the right to freedom of belief and religion is one of the fundamental rights of human beings. The 2013 Constitution specifies that, the right to freedom of belief and religion is a right of all people.

The Law on Belief and Religion, which took effect from January 2018, affirms the State’s consistent guidelines in and policies of ensuring the operation of religious organisations and believers, including the Evangelical Church of Vietnam.

The State of Vietnam has recognised and issued licences to 43 organisations of 16 religions with 26.5 million followers, accounting for 27% of the country’s total population.

Religions with a large number of followers include Buddhism, Catholicism, Hoa Hao Buddhism, Protestantism, and Cao Dai.

Currently, Vietnam has over 1.2 million Protestants in 100 organisations in all cities and provinces nationwide, mostly in Ho Chi Minh City.

In 2022, Wachowski had been visited Vietnam to co-chair the 9th round meeting of the two sides’ joint working group.

Hannah Nguyen