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Vatican appoints three bishops for Vietnam

A month after a Vatican delegation to Vietnam pressed the Holy See's requests for new bishops in that country, Pope John Paul II has filled some vacancies.

The Vatican said on Saturday that bishops were selected for Bui Chu, which has been without a bishop for some time; for Phan Thiet, whose bishop is elderly, and for Ho Chi Minh City, which was called Saigon before Communist rulers took over South Vietnam.

The bishop in Phan Thiet was given the title of coadjutor, meaning he will hold the right to succeed the current bishop in case of retirement or death. In Ho Chi Minh City, the new post is that of auxiliary bishop for the diocese, where one of the bishops has been quite ill.

The appointments had been expected after Vatican officials last month reported some headway, with some of the church's choices winning government approval but others being rebuffed. But no concrete progress toward establishing diplomatic ties was reported after that trip.

Among the Vatican choices reportedly rejected for the bishop's posts was one to replace an 82-year-old bishop in Hanoi, another for a diocese in the northeast which has been without a bishop since 1992 and another for a diocese lacking a bishop for three years.

Dealings have been tense over Hanoi's insistence that it have final say over religious appointments.