Vietnam’s President Meets with the Country’s Bishops’ Conference

The President of Vietnam, Vo Van Thuong, visited the headquarters of the country’s Episcopal Conference in Ho Chi Minh City last Monday, August 7

Newsroom (08/08/2023 15:00, Gaudium Press) The Vietnam Bishops’ Conference, situated in Ho Chi Minh City, welcomed a visit from President Vo Van Thuong of the country on Monday, August 7.

This visit by the head of state follows his recent meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican and the subsequent signing of the agreement regarding the Statute of the Resident Papal Representative and the Office of the Resident Papal Representative in Vietnam on July 27.

During this visit, the President, accompanied by nine other government officials, engaged in a meeting with nine Vietnamese bishops that lasted over an hour. Among them was Archbishop Joseph Nguyễn Năng, the president of the National Bishops’ Conference.

The bishops expressed their gratitude to the government for their proactive approach to the ongoing discussions between the government and the Catholic Church. In turn, Vo Van Thuong conveyed his appreciation to the Catholic Church and Pope Francis for their dedicated efforts to benefit the people of Vietnam.

The President also elaborated on his recent trip to the Vatican at the end of July, sharing that he was pleasantly surprised by the extensive hour-long meeting he had with the Holy Father. Priest Dào Nguyên Vũ, Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference, who also attended the meeting, presented the various activities undertaken by the Catholic Church in Vietnam. Notably, he highlighted that the Church is primarily involved in managing nurseries rather than other educational institutions. In response, the President pledged to explore this matter further.

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Archbishop Nguyễn Năng further discussed the role of the Church and its contributions to Vietnamese society. He extended his congratulations to the head of the government for his recent trip to the Vatican. At the conclusion of the meeting, the President was presented with a Vietnamese translation of the encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” and a photograph capturing the papal audience with the President, his wife, and the Pope.

Recent months have witnessed a significant improvement in the relationship between the Holy See and the Vietnamese government. Notably, diplomatic relations between the two sides were severed in 1975. Despite some earlier attempts at reconciliation in the 1990s and, more recently, in 2007 during the papacy of Benedict XVI, bilateral relations have largely remained distant.

Catholics comprise around 9% of Vietnam’s population, making Catholicism the second-largest religion after Buddhism, which constitutes approximately 50% of the population. (FM)

Compiled by Carlos Ruiz

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