Hanoi (VNA) – Permanent Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and Under Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States Antoine Camilleri co-chaired the seventh meeting of the Vietnam-Vatican Joint Working Group in Hanoi on December 19.

At the event, Son stressed that the Party and State of Vietnam consistently follows and improves its laws and policies towards respecting and ensuring citizens’ right to freedom of religion and beliefs. At the same time, Vietnamese authorities also pay attention to the needs of the Vietnam Catholic Church and create favourable conditions for the activities of the Vietnamese Catholic community.

He lauded growing ties between Vietnam and the Vatican, especially through meetings between leaders of Vietnam and the Holy See, such as permanent Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh’s visit in October during which he met with Pope Francis and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Both sides maintained effective information sharing mechanisms to promote mutual understanding and deal with existing issues.

The host suggested that the Holy See instruct the Vietnamese Catholic community to contribute to national development and improve the imagery of Catholicism in Vietnam, thus boosting bilateral ties.

Camilleri, for his part, affirmed that the Pope continues to attach importance to ties with Vietnam and wants the Vietnam Catholic Church to contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.

He thanked the Vietnamese Government and all-level authorities for creating conditions for the activities of the Vietnam Catholic Church, including the Holy See’s Non-Residential Pontifical Representative to Vietnam, as well as the delegation’s warm reception during their visit.

The guest wished that Vietnam and the Holy See would continue maintaining regular exchanges and visits at all levels.

Both sides spoke highly of the meeting’s agenda, contributing to the development of bilateral ties.

They agreed to upgrade Vietnam-Vatican ties from Non-Residential Pontifical Representative to Residential Pontifical Representative.

On December 18, Camilleri met Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, held a working session with head of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs Vu Chien Thang, and attended the installation of new Archbishop of Hanoi Vu Van Thien.–VNA