President Truong Tan Sang has reemphasised the Party and State’s policy of respecting and protecting the religious freedom of all citizens.

At the sixth Congress of Vietnamese Catholics for National Construction and Defence, which opened in Hanoi on November 20, President Sang said that thorough conditions are in place to support all religious organisations operate in accordance with the law.

He said he hopes all religions can promote their traditions and cultural and spiritual values, encouraging dignitaries and followers to lead both good secular and religious lives and positively engage in national construction and defence.

On behalf of the Party and State, he wished Catholics nationwide a happy Christmas for next month.

He also urged the Catholic Solidarity Committee to continue promoting their role in boosting unity among Catholics, guiding them in performing all Party and State directions, policies and law, while actively involving them in patriotic movements.

Praising the committee’s operational outcomes and dedication to the Vietnamese cause, the President said that it has succeeded in acting as a bridge linking Catholics across the nation and encouraging them to boost local socio-economic development, poverty reduction and other movements.

During the congress, which is being attended by 450 delegates from across the nation, participants are reviewing the results of Catholic patriotic movements from the past five years, drawing lessons to enhance the status of the Catholic Solidarity Committee.

They will work out a plan for the committee’s operations in the new tenure (2013-2018), and choose new committee members.

The committee has over the past five years launched a number of programmes offering free education and vocational training for homeless children and handicapped people, and giving free healthcare services to leprosy patients and people living with HIV.

The Catholic Solidarity Committee network covers 39 provinces and cities, where it reminds followers of Pope Benedict XVI’s words that a good Catholics is a good citizen.-VNA