Vatican strengthens ties with Vietnam but not with China

Beijing consecrates bishops for state-run church
Rome’s push to restore diplomatic relations with Vietnam took an “important step” forward as Pope Benedict XVI met last month at the Vatican with Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

The encounter in the papal library January 25 was the first of its kind in decades, thawing tensions that date back to the rise of Vietnamese communism. The talks also burnish the Vatican’s credentials for negotiating with communist governments as it pushes for greater religious freedom in China and reestablishment of diplomatic ties with Beijing.

“The Holy See expressed satisfaction for the visit, which marks a new and important step toward the normalization of bilateral relations,” a statement from the Vatican said. In a rare departure from Vatican protocol, Ngo Yen Thi, Vietnam’s head of religious affairs, also sat in on the meeting.


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