According to sources from the Holy See cited by the agency Reuters, President Vo Van Thuong will visit Rome at the end of this month, for the signing of an understanding. The objective would be the creation of a “permanent liaison office”, the same point that Cardinal Parolin alluded to in the interview on Saturday, when he was referring to Beijing. Meanwhile, no news appears on Chinese Catholic sites about Pope Francis’ recognition of Shen Bin as Bishop of Shanghai.
Vatican City () – The visit of the President of Vietnam, Vo Van Thuong, is expected in the Vatican in the coming days. The president will sign an agreement that will pave the way for the presence of a permanent representative of the Holy See in Hanoi. Information was confirmed by Reuters and the agency assures that it comes from high-level sources in the Vatican. Vo Van Thuong has held the presidency since March and should arrive in Rome at the end of the month to hold a meeting with Pope Francis. It should be remembered that the last meeting with a Vietnamese head of state took place in 2016 with the then president Tran Đại Quang.
The presence of a permanent representative of the Vatican in Vietnam is an issue on which the two diplomacies have been discussing for some time. The Holy See already has its own representative for Vietnam, Archbishop Marek Zalewski, who is nuncio to Singapore and until now was the person authorized by the Vietnamese government to visit the country. Last year an agreement had been reached “in principle” for the opening of a stable office in Hanoi. Now it should become a reality, reestablishing a representation in the country – just when almost 50 years have passed since the expulsion of the apostolic delegate in Vietnam, a decision taken by the communist government in 1975. This would constitute a new step forward, although it would not yet represent the restoration of full diplomatic relations.
Undoubtedly, the issue is somehow intertwined with relations between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China: Vatican diplomacy has cited the case of Vietnam on several occasions as a possible “pragmatic” model for the path forward in relations. with Beijing. And precisely “the opening of a stable liaison office of the Holy See in China” is one of the requests “to make dialogue grow in truth and mutual respect”, as announced by the Vatican Secretary of State, Card. Pietro Parolín, in the interview last Saturday with the Vatican media. The remarks were intended to comment on Pope Francis’ decision to remedy the canonical irregularity created by Beijing by appointing Mgr Joseph Shen Bin as Bishop of Shanghai.
Meanwhile, on Chinese Catholic sites – strictly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party – no news has been published about the decision taken by the pontiff regarding the bishop of Shanghai. As expected, not a single line about it appears on the website of the Patriotic Association, nor on that of the Diocese of Shanghai. This time he even omitted to mention the subject Xinde -a site that always reports news about the activities of the pontiff and that just a week ago had given voice to the joy for the “double gift” of the appointment of Hong Kong Bishop Stephen Chow as a cardinal and member of the Synod. And if Xinde He doesn’t write anything, it’s not because he doesn’t think it’s relevant for Catholics in China, but because he knows he can’t talk about it. It is the umpteenth proof that for the Chinese authorities, the appointment of bishops should appear as an autonomous matter of Beijing. Despite the Agreement with the Holy See.