A delegation from the Vatican led by the Undersecretary of State for Relations with States, Pietro Parolin, is visiting Vietnam.
Head of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs Nguyen The Doanh
A Vietnam-Vatican joint experts’ team met in Hanoi February 17-18 to discuss bilateral diplomatic relations.
Nguyen The Doanh, Head of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, spoke to Vietnam News Agency.
VNA: The joint experts’ team has met for the last two days. How are relations between the two sides?
Mr. Doanh: This is the 18th visit to Vietnam by a Vatican delegation. The visit is made annually based on an agreement between Vietnam and the Vatican in 1990. During the last two visits, the two sides agreed to set up a joint experts’ team headed by a deputy foreign minister on each side to discuss bilateral relations.
This visit has seen the first meeting of the joint experts’ team. Besides diplomatic issues, the meeting also discussed issues related to the Vietnam Catholic Church and others. The Vietnam Catholic Church is a part of the Universal Catholic Church and a religious organization that operates in Vietnam under Vietnamese laws. Therefore, issues relating to the Vietnam Catholic Church have been included in the agenda.
What have the two sides achieved in the last 17 meetings? What is the most important factor boosting the bilateral ties?
Mr. Doanh: The two sides have got to understand more about each other during the previous meetings. They have agreed to respect the each other’s concerns. Dialogue is the most appropriate channel, helping create a friendly environment in which both sides seek solutions to issues of common interest for the sake of each other. The two sides have generally been satisfied with the past meetings.
As we know, Pope Benedict XVI and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met on January 25 at the Vatican. The meeting came about as a result of the dialogues conducted between Vietnam and Vatican since 1990. The dialogues help the two sides come closer to each other, understand each other better, and achieve positive results.
By their 15th visit to Vietnam, Vatican delegations had called on all the 22 Catholic archdioceses in Vietnam. They have been warmly received by the Government. They have got a better understanding about the land, people, history, culture, and customs. Such meetings have helped boost ties.
I think the first important thing in the Vietnam – Vatican relationship is mutual respect, including respect for the sovereignty, history, culture, tradition, and laws of the Vietnamese nation. It also includes respect for differences between the two sides and their goodwill in seeking mutual consent.
The second is they should ensure harmony for each other’s benefits in their relations.
The third is they should head towards a religious development that is pure and healthy, in which the Vietnam Catholic Church’s viewpoint that its development and the nation’s development are attendant is of great significance. The two sides should not allow any negative influence from a third party.
What do you think about this year’s meeting between Vietnam and the Vatican and prospects for the bilateral relationship?
Mr. Doanh: As I mentioned, the past 17 meetings have brought positive and practical results. Though this is the first meeting of the joint experts’ team, the previous meetings between the two sides will help them achieve positive results, creating a favorable foundation for future meetings.