.- This morning Pope Benedict XVI received Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dang of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The meeting is expected to signal a new age in relations between the Holy See and the developing nation which boasts one of the largest Catholic populations in Asia.
After his meeting with the Holy Father, the first between a Pope and Prime Minster of Vietnam, Dang also met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
In a press release today, the Holy See expressed its satisfaction for the visit, “which marks a new and important step towards the normalization of bilateral relations. Those relations have, over the last few years, made concrete progress, opening new doors of religious freedom for the Catholic Church in Vietnam.”
According to the Vatican Press Office, the two leaders also spoke of remaining problems, expressing their hope “that the difficulties will be faced and resolved through existing channels of dialogue and will lead to a fruitful cooperation between Church and State.”
It is the hope of the Church, the Vatican release stated, “that Catholics in Vietnam will be able to more effectively make a positive contribution to the common good of the country, to promoting moral values, in particular among the young, to spreading a culture of solidarity, and to charitable assistance in favor of the weaker sectors of the population.”
The Holy Father and prime minister also discussed their opinions on, “the current international situation, with a view to a joint commitment in favor of peace and of negotiated solutions to the serious problems of the present time,” the press release concluded.