A delegation officially led by the Vatican’s Undersecrary of State for Relations With States, Monsignor Pietro Parolin has begun its highly anticipated visit to Vietnam. The delegation’s visit is the next step in a process to reestablish diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Communist nation.
According to the Associated Press, Msgr. Parolin and his group was to meet today with the Archbishop of Hanoi, Ngo Quang Kiet and Archbishop of Thành-Phô Hô Chí Minh, Cardinal Pham Minh Man.
Starting tomorrow the delegation will meet with government officialsLater in the week, the visitors are scheduled to meet with government officials, including Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who met last month with Pope Benedict XVI, at the Vatican.
The group is also scheduled to visit churches in three central Vietnamese provinces including the dioceses of Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh and Kon Tum, and Tay Nguyen.
Both sides have expressed their desire to reestablish relations in the country. The Vatican called Prime Minister Tan Dung’s visit, “of particular significance.”
Vietnam has one of the largest Catholic populations in Asia, with 6 million Catholics.
The Vatican has also indicated that official ties between the Holy See and Hanoi could lead to Catholic assistance in medical care and other social services for the Vietnamese people.