The Vietnam-Vatican Joint Working Group held its fifth meeting in Hanoi on September 10-11, reaching a consensus that positive progress has been made on the Vietnam-Vatican relations.

The meeting was co-chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, head of the Vietnamese delegation, and Under-Secretary for Relations with States Antoine Camilleri, head of the Vatican delegation.

The Vatican side thanked the Vietnamese authorities at all levels for helping Vietnam’s Catholic Church accomplish its mission, whilst recognising the progress made on Vietnam’s religious policy, as evidenced in the 2013 revised Constitution.

It agreed that the Vatican’s Non-resident Special Envoy, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, was helped by the Vietnamese State to undertake pastoral visits in Vietnam.

The Vatican side declared the importance it placed on developing ties with Vietnam in particular and Asia in general, as demonstrated by Pope Francis’ visits to the continent in recent time.

The Vatican expressed its wish to establish diplomatic ties with Vietnam and, together with Vietnam’s Catholic Church, participate in the country’s developmental process via its fields of strength, such as healthcare, education, and humanitarian and charitable affairs.

The Vietnamese side asserted that the Party and State of Vietnam persistently pursued and constantly refined its policies on respecting and safeguarding people’s rights to religion and faith freedom. The Party and State appreciated the active participation of the Vietnam Catholic Church in the nation-building and socio-economic development process.

Both sides reiterated the application of the principles of “living the gospel in the nation” and “a good Catholic must be a good citizen”.

The Vatican side noted that Pope Francis always closely followed the development of Vietnam-Vatican ties and encouraged the Catholic community in Vietnam to continue to do more for their country.

Both sides agreed the Vietnam-Vatican relations have developed positively, referring to the numerous contacts established at all levels, the organisation of meetings and joint working groups, and the activities of the papal representative in Vietnam.

They agreed to continue to uphold dialogues and close contact, whilst working to facilitate the activities of the non-resident Special Envoy in guiding the Vietnam Catholic Church to efficiently realise Pope’s teachings.

The meeting took place in an atmosphere of sincerity, openness and mutual respect.

Both sides agreed to hold the sixth meeting of the Vietnam-Vatican joint working group in the Vatican, the date of which is to be arranged via diplomatic channels.

The Vatican delegation also paid courtesy visits to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and head of the Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs Pham Dung.

The delegation visited several Catholic churches in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.-VNA