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Vatican may open "soon" its embassy in Vietnam

Monsignor Miroslaw Wachoski, under secretary for relations with states in Hanoi (fourth from left). (Photo by Vatican News)

The Vatican may open soon its embassy in Vietnam. 
The Holy See Press office stated the possible opening of a permanent pontifical office in Hanoi, in the “near future” after the meeting between the Vatican and Vietnam.

The meeting of the Vietnam – Holy See Joint Working Group was held in Hanoi on April 21-22, 2022.

Monsignor Miroslaw Wachowski, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, and Ha Kim Ngoc, Vietnam’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Head of the Vietnamese delegation, led respectively the session.

The Press Office statement said that the delegations discussed in-depth the matters of relations between the States and issues concerning the Catholic Church in Vietnam.  

Both parties agreed to continue to strengthen fruitful dialogue and mutual trust. They agreed on the issues relevant to raising the level of diplomatic relations from non-resident pontifical representation to resident pontifical representative. 

Currently, the apostolic nuncio in Singapore, Monsignor Marek Zalewski, is the non-resident pontifical representative of Vietnam. 

The issue has been on the table for years and if it is accepted, the Vatican can open Nunciature in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

The statement observed, “The two parties agreed that relations between Vietnam and the Holy See should be maintained on mutually agreed-upon principles and fruitful dialogue, to consolidate reciprocal trust and strengthen relations in the common interest of the two parties and the Vietnamese Catholic community.”

The meeting took place in “a cordial and mutually respectful atmosphere.” 

The statement noted that the agreement of the two delegations upon the issues “relevant to raising, soon, the level of relations between Vietnam and the Holy See from a non-resident to a Resident Pontifical Representative and agreed on future steps to be undertaken to establish an office of the Resident Pontifical Representative in Hanoi.”

The statement reads that “the Holy See follows with interest the Catholic community's deep and vibrant life in the country and encourages the Catholic Church in Vietnam to contribute to the country's common good and prosperity, as the Catholic community demonstrated concretely during the pandemic's most critical periods by volunteering in hospitals and assisting the needy.”

Both parties agree that their tenth Joint Working Group will hold at the Vatican at a date to be determined.

It can be recalled that Vietnam expelled a Vatican envoy from the country in 1976 after the communists took control of South Vietnam. Since that incident, the Vatican has had no diplomatic relations with Vietnam.  

Pope Benedict Pope Benedict XVI appointed Monsignor Leopoldo Girelli as the first non-resident pontifical representative to Vietnam in 2011.

Vietnam, a country of 96 million people that shares a border with China, is south-east Asia’s fastest-growing economy. 

It is a Buddhist-majority country. There are about 7 million Catholics in Vietnam, representing 7.0% of the total population. There are 27 dioceses (including three archdioceses) with 3,073 parishes and more than 3000 priests.  


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