The international agency 'Fides,' reports cautious optimism in the Vietnamese Church, and that the Vatican hopeful of establishing diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Hanoi. But there is little chance that John Paul II will be able to visit Vietnam this year, a visit much desired by the Pope himself and much awaited by Vietnamese Catholics.
   Recently a Vatican delegation met with government representatives and members of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Since 1990, during previous annual visits, the Vatican delegation only met with the Religious Affairs Ministry and made a courtesy call on Foreign Ministry representatives. Talks with government representatives led to a joint declaration insuring future meetings to further negotiations for the establishment of diplomatic relations.
    Bishop Barthelemy Nguyen Son Lam, Secretary of the Bishops' Conference told 'Fides' that the talks were held in a friendly atmosphere and that the Vietnamese authorities appeared more open than in past meetings, including on the question of the appointment of bishops to vacant dioceses. "We were surprised to see the authorities so happy to accept appointments proposed by the Holy See. In the past, the government did not give in so readily," the Bishop said.

Zenit 29/03/99 10:26:58


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