Vatican works to build ties with Vietnam

by Thomas C. Fox

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Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples Cardinal Ivan Dias, in Vietnam, conveyed best wishes from Pope Benedict XVI to the Vietnamese people, affirming the Vatican’s goodwill and strong wish to promote good relations with Vietnam.

The meeting between Dias and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung comes just days after the U.S. filed a protest to the Vietnamese government after a U.S. diplomat was roughed upwhen he was visiting a Vietnamese Catholic dissident priest in central Vietnam.

Relations between church and state in Vietnam continue to be somewhat precarious. Catholics within the church in Vietnam are also somewhat divided in thoughts about how to work with the Hanoi leadership. Some strong anti-communists say cooperation if impossible; others say the church needs to find ways to work with communist officials, especially on matters of pastoral concern.

The Vietnamnese government does not allow private schools or private hospitals and does not allow any evangelization efforts outside parish property.

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