Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (fourth, right) welcome the VBS delegation (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc met with visiting delegations of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) and the Episcopal Council of the Catholic Church of Vietnam in Hanoi on February 4 on the occasion of the Lunar New Year festival.

Wishing Buddhist dignitaries, monks and followers a happy new year, the Deputy PM recognised the VBS’s social and secular achievements last year which, he said, contributed to the national development.

He noted that Buddhism has been present in Vietnam for over two millennia and accompanied the country throughout its history. He added that he hopes the VBS’s chapters will encourage followers to carry out citizens’ responsibilities and comply with the Party and State policies and laws, especially those relating to belief and religions.

Buddhist followers should also consolidate their solidarity with non-religious people and followers of other religions, respond to patriotic movements, and foster economic, cultural and social development.

Most Venerable Thich Thien Nhon, President of the VBS Executive Council, offered congratulations on the success of the recent 12 th National Party Congress and wished the Government officials health and strong will to fulfill their role.

He added that the Sangha had accomplished important religious works last year, noting that all 63 provinces and centrally-run cities now have VBS executive boards with the last one appointed in Lai Chau province. The VBS also successfully organised many big festivals in 2015.

Welcoming Archbishop Bui Van Doc – Chairman of the Episcopal Council of the Catholic Church of Vietnam, Deputy PM Phuc sent best wishes to archbishops, bishops, priests and followers nationwide.

He stressed the achievements made in socio-economic matters, along with the solidarity and social consensus among people of different ethnic groups and religions last year. Those were thanks to the contributions of the Episcopal Council, bishops and followers.

The official reiterated the State of Vietnam’s consistent policy of respecting and guaranteeing the right to freedom of belief and religion.

Appreciating the Episcopal Council’s activities, Phuc asked the Council to continue fostering the connections between the State and the Catholic community, and support its followers to abide by the law, actively engage in socio-economic development and in defence and security activities.

Archbishop Bui Van Doc said he expected the Government will keep on driving the country’s vigorous growth.

According to the 2009 general census, Vietnam had more than 6.8 million Buddhist followers and 5.6 million Catholic followers.-VNA