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Vatican is satisfied for growing relations with Hanoi

ICC Note: Here is an update on the meeting between the Vietnamese prime minister and the Pope

1/25/07 Vietnam For full story…..(AsiaNews) – The visit by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng to the Vatican today “marks a new and important step towards the normalisation of bilateral relations.” Mr Tấn Dũng is the first Vietnamese head of government to be received by the Pope.

In its press release the Holy See stressed that “concrete progress” have been made in terms of religious freedom, and expressed hope that relations between the Catholic Church and the government of Vietnam can lead to cooperation based on the promotion of moral values and the spread of a culture of solidarity that allows “charitable assistance”.

The issues discusses at the meeting are those that have historically motivated Vietnamese government to be more open towards the Catholic Church after years of persecution.

Hanoi now realises that Catholic morality can be of service to the country which is suffering the effects of unbalanced rapid economic development, corruption and a rush for material success at any cost.

The meeting between Benedict XVI and the Vietnamese premier, who subsequently met Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, lasted 25 minutes.

Journalists present at the public part of the event said that it took place in a particularly cordial atmosphere.

Mr Tấn Dũng was accompanied by an eight-member delegation that included four ministers and Ngo Yen Thi, head of the Vietnam ’s Commission for Religious Affairs.

In response to a question about the possibility that the Vatican and Vietnam may establish normal diplomatic relations, a spokesperson for Vietnam ’s foreign ministry said that it would all depend on today’s meeting.

For its part, the Vatican press release added that the “Holy See expressed its satisfaction for the visit, which marks a new and important step towards the normalisation of bilateral relations. Those relations have, over the last few years, made concrete progress opening new spaces of religious freedom for the Catholic Church in Vietnam .”

“In the course of the discussions, attention turned to the problems that remain which, it is hoped, will be faced and resolved through existing channels of dialogue and will lead to a fruitful cooperation between Church and State, so that Catholics can, ever more effectively, make a positive contribution to the common good of the country, to promoting moral values, in particular among the young, to spreading a culture of solidarity and to charitable assistance in favour of the weaker sectors of the population.”

“Furthermore, opinions were exchanged on the current international situation, with a view to a joint commitment in favour of peace and of negotiated solutions to the serious problems of the present time.” (FP)