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Holy See visit marks progress for the Church in Vietnam

Holy See delegates were in Vietnam for talks this week. Relations between the Church and the Communist Government have improved in the booming country, despite rampant materialism and still limited freedom. From Alessandro Speciale, a regular ucanews.com contributor.

  • Alessandro Speciale
  • Vietnam
  • March 2, 2012
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The residence of the archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City – an ancient colonial mansion in whose grounds one can also find the city’s oldest building – is an oasis of peace amid the constant roar of the motorbikes filling the streets of the city that was once known as Saigon.

But visitors arriving there cannot fail to notice the slogan written on a 10-metre-long banner hanging just across the road, on the wall of the local People Committee’s headquarters: “The party, the people and the army actively respond to the campaign: ‘Study and follow the moral examples of Ho Chi Minh’”.

It is a stark reminder that Vietnam, despite recent economic progress and a breakthrough in its relationship with the Vatican, is still a Communist country. ??Just like the small flags bearing a hammer-and-sickle symbol on street corners, that is something that the absent-minded traveller might easily overlook among the neon shop-signs and street-vendor stalls lining the city’s avenues.

Vietnam has a vibrant economy – growing at around 7 per cent per year in the last 10 years – after business-friendly reforms in the past decades. But, just like China, political freedom has not come with greater economic freedom.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that the Catholic Church – with around eight million members, or around 9 per cent of the population – has gained from the country’s relative opening up to the outside world, and that its freedom has increased in recent years.

Full Story: Sin cities - the church in Vietnam

Source: The Tablet
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