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Pope Francis meets Vietnamese President Vo Van Thong and First Lady Phan Tri Thanh Tam at the Vatican last week (CNS/Vatican News)

Vietnam will allow a papal representative to reside in the country and open an office there to support Vietnam’s estimated 6.5 million Catholics in a sign of the country’s improved relations with the Holy See. Source: NCR Online.

Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong travelled to the Vatican on July 27, where he had a half-hour audience with Pope Francis before meeting with other officials including Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.

During those meetings, the two sides “expressed high appreciation for the noteworthy progress in the relations between Vietnam and the Holy See, and the positive contributions by the Catholic community of Vietnam thus far,” the Vatican said in a joint statement after the meeting. 

It said that the papal representative will “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,’ and contribute to the development of the country.”

The statement also noted that the presence of a papal representative in Vietnam “will be a bridge to advance relations between Vietnam and the Holy See.”

The countries still do not have full diplomatic relations, but since 2011 the Vatican has had a non-resident papal representative to Vietnam.

The July 27 agreement is the result of efforts that began in 2009 with the first meeting between Vietnamese and Vatican officials in Hanoi to improve relations between the two countries, the Vietnamese bishop’s conference said in a statement after the agreement was announced.

“The regular presence of the apostolic vicar will help the people of God in Vietnam feel in communion with the Holy Father more concretely, to live and bear witness to the Gospel among the people more actively,” the statement said.


Vietnam approves resident papal representative marking improved relations (By Justin McLellan, OSV News via NCR Online)