Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn affirmed that Việt Nam always pays attention to and facilitates religious activities, including Catholicism, to thrive within the bounds of the Constitution and legal framework.

He made the remarks on Tuesday while receiving Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organisations, during his six-day visit to Việt Nam.

Scheduled from April 9-14, this visit is conducted at the invitation of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Việt Nam and marks the first time a Vatican Secretary for Relations with States has visited Việt Nam at this level.

At the meeting, Sơn welcomed Archbishop Gallagher's first visit to Việt Nam, and stated that this is an opportunity for the archbishop to witness Việt Nam's dynamic development, as well as the rich and vibrant religious life of the Catholic community in Việt Nam.

Sơn emphasised that Việt Nam consistently pursues an independent, self-reliant, multilateral and diversified foreign policy, being a reliable partner and a responsible member of the international community. He also expressed his desire to develop relations with other countries based on principles of equality, mutual respect, mutually beneficial cooperation and compliance with international law.

He affirmed that Việt Nam always pursues a consistent policy of respecting and ensuring people's freedom to belief and religion. He emphasised the importance of national unity, where religion is one of the contributing factors to building and developing the country.

Sơn expressed his desire for the Vietnamese Catholic community to continue promoting the good moral values of Catholicism in social life, contributing positively to the development and prosperity of the country and the Catholic Church.

The minister highly appreciated the positive progress of the Việt Nam-Vatican relations in recent times, demonstrated through high-level meetings, results of negotiations of the Việt Nam-Vatican Joint Working Group, and the agreement on the working regulations of the Holy See’s Resident Representative and Office of the Holy See’s Resident Representative in Việt Nam.

Sơn proposed that both sides continue to maintain the effectiveness of high-level exchange activities, and affirmed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with relevant agencies, will create conditions for the Resident Representative of the Holy See to fulfil its mission in Việt Nam.

Archbishop Gallagher, for his part, expressed his joy in witnessing the development of the Catholic Church in Việt Nam, and trusted that the Vietnamese Catholic community would make even more contributions to the country's development.

Sharing Minister Sơn's assessment of the well-developing Việt Nam-Vatican relationship, Archbishop Gallagher agreed to promote exchanges and enhance cooperation between the two sides through the Việt Nam-Vatican Joint Working Group mechanism as well as in multilateral and international forums.

The archbishop expressed his hope that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant Vietnamese agencies and localities would continue to create favourable conditions for the activities of the Resident Representative of the Holy See and expressed confidence that the bilateral relationship would continue to achieve important milestones.

As planned, Archbishop Gallagher will meet with Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính, Minister of Home Affairs Phạm Thị Thanh Trà and leaders of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs on Wednesday.

He will visit Hà Nội-based National Children's Hospital, which has had medical cooperation with Rome's Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital since 2005.

Archbishop Gallagher will celebrate mass at designated cathedrals in Hà Nội, Huế and HCM City, and meet with members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Việt Nam before wrapping up the visit on April 14.

Source: VNS


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