The Vietnam government has issued a new decree on religious affairs guaranteeing religious freedom as long as it is in the interest of the state.
    It also provides that the reclaiming of Church properties and lands under state administration in line with either previous or present governments will not be approved by the state.
    A Church source told UCA News that some religious properties, including the former minor seminary premises of Phu Cuong diocese, have been returned to the Catholic Church in the last few years. But requests for the return of more Church properties such as the pontifical college in Da Lat city still remain unanswered, the source said.
    All religious activities carried out in the legitimate and lawful interests of believers are guaranteed, and those religious activities beneficial to the nation and the people are encouraged, the three-chapter decree says.
    Last month the government strongly rejected a March 16 report by Abdelfattah Amor, the Tunisian-born United Nations special rapporteur for religious intolerance, who visited Vietnam last October.
    "Religion appears as an instrument of policy rather than a component of society, free to develop as it wishes, something which is ultimately contrary to freedom of religion or belief as governed by international law," the special envoy wrote in the concluding section of his report.

10:53am 28/4/99 / UCA News


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