The State of Vietnam has encouraged the Catholic Church in the country to actively and effectively participate in the economic and social development of the nation, according to the Vietnamese delegation to the third meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group, which wrapped up in Hanoi on Feb. 28.

The Vietnamese delegation also highlighted the implementation and continual improvement of the policy to ensure respect and freedom of belief and religion.

The two-day event was scheduled at the second meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group in the Vatican in June 2010.

The meeting was co-chaired by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, head of the Vietnamese delegation, and Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, under-secretary for Relations with States and head of the Holy See delegation.

The two sides informed each other of their respective situation and reviewed progress in ties between Vietnam and the Holy See. Participants also discussed issues related to the Catholic Church in Vietnam and international developments.

The Holy See delegation expressed appreciation for the attention given by civil authorities to the activities of the Catholic Church, in particular in 2010 during the celebration of the Jubilee Year, and on the occasion of the pastoral visits of the non-resident Special Envoy Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli. The Holy See expressed the wish that the envoy’s role and mission be strengthen and extended, in order to enhance ties between the Holy See and the Catholic Church in Vietnam and the nation as a whole. Both sides agreed to facilitate the work of Archbishop Girelli so that he can better fulfil his mission.

Participants at the meeting recalled the teachings of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI regarding living Gospel within the nation and his considerations concerning being a good Catholic and good citizen. They also stressed the need for continued cooperation between the Catholic Church and civil authorities in order to practically implement those teachings in activities.

The two sides came up with an assessment that the Vietnam-Holy See relationship has attained positive developments on the basis of goodwill and constructive dialogue.

The meeting took place in an atmosphere of cordiality, frankness and mutual respect.

The two sides agreed to convene the fourth meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group in the Vatican . The date of the meeting will be arranged through diplomatic channels.

On the occasion of the visit in Vietnam, the delegation of the Holy See paid courtesy calls to Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh, Vice Standing Chairman of the Governmental Committee for Religious Affairs Nguyen Thanh Xuan and to the National Paediatrics Hospital, which cooperates with the Holy See’s “Bambino Gesu” Hospital in Rome as well as to some Catholic institutions in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the dioceses of Xuan Loc and Dong Nai./.