HomeChurch & AsiaVatican official embarks on key diplomatic mission in Vietnam

Vatican official embarks on key diplomatic mission in Vietnam

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, started his six-day visit to Vietnam on April 9.

According to Vatican News, the prelate’s agenda is packed with significant meetings, including those with Vietnam’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bui Thanh Son and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chính, alongside diplomatic engagements at the Ministry of the Interior. 

Gallagher will also conduct a Eucharistic celebration at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi and visit the ecclesiastical province of Hue to interact with Major Seminary students and lead Mass at the “Phu Cam” Cathedral.

This visit follows a pivotal meeting between Pope Francis and representatives from the Communist Party of Vietnam, which paved the way for a landmark agreement in December to appoint a resident pontifical representative in Vietnam. 

This agreement, signed during President Vo Van Thuong’s visit to the Vatican, represents a significant stride in the relationship between the two states.

Gallagher’s trip underscores the Vatican’s commitment to the Vietnamese Catholic community and the broader goal of enhancing diplomatic relations. 

He expressed optimism about the visit’s impact, saying, “Vietnam’s importance and its status as an economic miracle in many respects.” 

- Newsletter -

The prelate also hinted at possible future visits by high-ranking Vatican officials, including Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and perhaps Pope Francis himself, emphasizing the potential for further advancement in bilateral relations.

The Vatican’s engagement with Vietnam has gradually improved since diplomatic ties were cut in 1975. The appointment of a non-resident pontifical representative in 2011 and the establishment of a resident representative in 2023 have marked key milestones. 

In a letter to the Church in Vietnam in September 2023, Pope Francis urged the Catholic faithful to exemplify good citizenship and faith, highlighting the importance of “recognizing convergences and respecting differences” to foster dialogue and hope in Vietnam.

Gallagher’s visit symbolizes a significant chapter in the ongoing dialogue between the Vatican and Vietnam, aimed at fostering mutual understanding, religious freedom, and a reinforced bilateral partnership.

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