Mother Teresa's order invited to Vietnam
The Vietnamese government is planning to invite Mother Teresa's order to establish base in the Communist country, as the US State Department removes Vietnam from a list of "countries of special concern" over religious freedom.
According to the Rome-based agency AsiaNews, the Vietnamese government plans to invite Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity to Vietnam following a meeting between the congregation's head, Sr Nirmala, and government officials.
Sr Marie Francoise Ha Thi Thanh Tinh, who belongs to the Congregation of the Charity of Jesus, a Vietnamese congregation inspired by Mother Teresa's sisters, told AsiaNews that Sr Nirmala had visited Vietnam in June where she was told that the government wants the sisters to provide their services in the social and charity fields.
"Compared to ten years ago, the Vietnamese government has made great strides," Sr Nirmala said, according to the report.
Meanwhile, saying that religious freedom in the East Asian country has "significantly improved", the US has removed Vietnam from a list of countries which it says severely violate religious freedom, BBC News reports.
The list is published annually by the State Department and includes Iran, China, Sudan and North Korea. Uzbekistan has been added to the list this year.
Regarding Vietnam, the State Department said there had been "significant improvements toward advancing religious freedom".
The Vietnamese government also this week released an American activist whose detention for more than a year on terrorism charges was the cause of diplomatic tension between the two countries.
"When I first travelled to Vietnam there were dozens of individuals imprisoned for their religious beliefs," State Department official, John Hanford told Voice of America.
"Today, all of those people have been released. Prisoners included Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants and Wahow, some of whom had been in jail for many years."
Hanford said while there are still some problem issues with Vietnam, it has ceased and even outlawed some of the most egregious practices cited in 2004, including forcing thousands of Protestants in the central highlands region to renounce their faith.
He said Vietnam has reopened hundreds of Protestant churches it once shuttered and has, among other things, allowed hundreds of new Protestant and Catholic clergymen to be ordained.
US Removes Vietnam From List of Religious-Freedom Violators (BBC News, 15/11/06)
US drops Vietnam from "countries of special concern" over religious freedom (AsiaNews, 14/11/06)
US Removes Vietnam From List of Religious-Freedom Violators (Voice of America, 14/11/06)
Mother Teresa's sisters waiting for Hanoi's official green light (AsiaNews, 14/11/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Missionaries of Charity (Wikipedia)
International religious freedom (US State Department)
Vietnam steps up persecution of Montagnard ethnic group (CathNews, 19/4/05)
Asian countries worst offenders on religious freedom (CathNews, 28/6/04)
New decree ensuring religious freedom (CathNews, 28/4/99)
15 Nov 2006