The Vietnamese government has rejected a report on religious practice in Vietnam recently released by the US State Department, saying that it has no right to judge religious affairs in other countries.
    In a press conference, the director of the press and information department said, "The Vietnamese state always respects the right of its people to practice their religions. However, any religion should be part of a certain community in a certain country, therefore followers of these religions, in addition to practicing their beliefs, must obey national laws."
    The report pointed out that "the local Catholic Church hierarchy remained frustrated by the government's restrictions but has learned to accommodate itself to them for many years."
    While the government generally allowed persons to practice individual worship in the religion of their choice, "it continued to restrict significantly those organized activities of religious groups that it defined as being at variance with state laws and policies," the report said.
    The document noted the appointment of a new archbishop in Ho Chi Minh City and the naming of five bishops in other dioceses in 1998 and 1999. It said the government 'relaxed its outright prohibition on the Catholic Church's involvement in religious education and charitable activities but still restricted such activity'.
    UCAN 11:46am 21/9/99

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