Church diplomat eyes close Vietnam ties
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli wants also to serve local Church
ucanews.com reporter, Ho Chi Minh City
February 10, 2011
“I would like to take this opportunity to convey my earnest desire and intent to be of assistance to you (and) to assure you of my availability both in service and collaboration for the well-being of the Church,” said Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli in his letter to Cardinal Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City.
Archbishop Girelli sent the letter, dated January 13, to Cardinal Man soon after Pope Benedict XVI named him non-resident pontifical representative for Vietnam.
The Vatican has no diplomatic relations with Vietnam and the naming of a non-resident pontifical representative is seen as the first step towards re-establishing diplomatic ties with the communist country.
His letter in English was posted on Ho Chi Minh City archdiocese’s website on February 2.
“I ardently hope to strengthen the bonds of fraternal understanding and mutual assistance between this Pontifical Representation and your archdiocese,” the 57-year-old Vatican diplomat told Cardinal Man.
Archbishop Girelli said he also hoped to be “an instrument of fellowship between local priests, Religious and laypeople and among the people in Vietnam.”
Cardinal Man told ucanews.com earlier that he hopes the pontifical representative would play an intermediary role in building good working relationships between the Holy See, the Vietnamese government and the local Church.
He said local Church leaders and Archbishop Girelli should meet directly to communicate and correctly understand local Church issues.
In the past certain Church issues could not be effectively communicated to the Holy See by mail, he noted.
“He [Archbishop Girelli] should visit local Catholic communities regularly and see their lives as he did in Indonesia so he can accurately reflect on the local Church’s activities,” Cardinal Man noted.
Archbishop Girelli, who has been in the Vatican diplomatic corps since 1987. He was ordained a bishop in 2006 when he was named nuncio to Indonesia.
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