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Cardinal Parolin 'to visit Vietnam soon'

Vatican’s secretary for relations with states says invite has been extended to top diplomat, doesn't rule out papal trip
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher greets local Catholics after a Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Vietnam on April 13

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher greets local Catholics after a Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Vietnam on April 13. (Photo: UCA News)

Published: April 17, 2024 05:11 AM GMT
Updated: April 17, 2024 05:53 AM GMT

The Vatican’s secretary for relations with states has said Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin will visit Vietnam soon.

Winding up his six-day visit to the communist nation on April 14, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher said Cardinal Parolin, who visited Vietnam several times when he was an undersecretary, “has been invited to Vietnam and he will come in the near future.”

“I think that will be another significant moment in relations between Vietnam and the Holy See,” he said.

We have to say that the progress in recent years has been quite remarkable, Gallagher said in an interview posted on the Vietnamese bishops’ council's website.

The 70-year-old English prelate said, “All the signs are positive at this time” as there is enormous respect towards the Holy See.

He did not rule out Pope Francis visiting Vietnam.

The pope “is keen to come and meet the people in Vietnam and particularly local Catholics.”

But the process for a papal visit is “obviously more complicated,” the Vatican’s foreign minister added.

During his stay in the Southeast Asian nation, Gallagher met with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and other officials and presided over Masses in Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Gallagher said the government is impressed with the enormous contribution of the Church to the well-being of local people, especially during the pandemic.

Communists in Vietnam cut off ties with the Vatican and expelled the last apostolic delegate, Archbishop Henri Lemaitre, on April 30, 1975. Numerous Church facilities were confiscated and clergymen and laypeople were imprisoned.

Ties worsened after Vietnam strongly opposed the canonization of 117 Vietnamese martyrs by St. Pope John Paul II in Rome on June 19, 1988. The Vatican resumed relations with the communist government in 1989.

“Nobody really should try to be prisoners of the past so we have to move forward,” Gallagher said.

As in any relationship, there is a past and a present but it’s most important there is a future, the prelate added.

Gallagher said local Catholics want to have a bright future for their faith.

 “Archbishop Gallagher created a great sense of excitement among many local Catholics, who suffered religious restrictions for the past 49 years,” Sister Mary Madeleine Nguyen Thi Ly said.

The visit is an “undeniable demonstration of the Holy See's special care” for the local Church, the nun said.

Missionaries of Charity Sister Veronica Bui Thi Quynh, described the visit as “a Pentecost that helps to retain dignity and social positions of local Catholics.”

Sister Quynh, based in the northcentral province of Quang Binh, said it was unfortunate that some local officials “harbor suspicion that religious believers fight against the government even today.”

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