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Archbishop Gallagher makes 6-day visit to Vietnam

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, embarks on a diplomatic visit to Vietnam, which will include meetings with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister and encounters with the local Church.

By Vatican News

On April 9, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, began his journey to Vietnam, where he will stay until Sunday, April 14.

The X account of the Secretariat of State, @TerzaLoggia, released his schedule as the English-born Archbishop departed.

The schedule includes meetings with Foreign Affairs Minister Bui Thanh Son and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chính.

He will also hold diplomatic encounters at the Ministry of the Interior and preside at a Eucharistic celebration at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi.

Archbishop Gallagher’s programme includes a visit to the ecclesiastical province of Hue to meet with Major Seminary students and preside over a Mass at Hue’s “Phu Cam” cathedral.

Announcment of the journey

Archbishop Gallagher himself mentioned his visit to Vietnam on January 18, following an audience that Pope Francis held with representatives from the Communist Party of Vietnam at the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

Speaking after an event, the Archbishop expressing his appreciation for the meeting and his hopes that the Vietnamese Catholic community will benefit from this advancement in bilateral relations, alongside other significant diplomatic achievements.

In December, the Holy See and Vietnam reached an agreement to appoint a resident pontifical representative in Vietnam, the Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore, Polish-born Archbishop Marek Zalewski.

The agreement was signed in July 2023, during President Vo Van Thuong’s visit to the Vatican, based on the tenth session of the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group, which took place on March 31, 2023, in Rome.

Archbishop Gallagher also hinted at a possible visit to the country by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin within the year and voiced optimism about a potential future visit by Pope Francis.

He highlighted Vietnam’s importance and its status as an “economic miracle in many respects.”

Pope Francis’ letter to the Vietnamese Church

Vietnam and the Holy See broke diplomatic relations in 1975, but positive developments began to occur after 1990.

In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed a non-resident pontifical representative, and in 2023, the two parties established a statute for a resident representative.

Pope Francis also sent a letter to the Church in Vietnam in September 2023, urging Catholic faithful to live as “good Christians and good citizens.”

He called on them to bear witness to God’s love “without distinction of religion, race, or culture” and stressed the importance of “recognizing convergences and respecting differences.”

This approach, noted the Pope, embodies Catholics’ identity as good Christians and citizens by animating their Church and spreading the Gospel in daily life.

Where there are “conditions favourable to the exercise of religious freedom,” he said, the witness of Catholics can help promote dialogue and hope for Vietnam.

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