WCBCV -- The delegation of the Holy See, led by Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, the Holy See Secretariat for Relations with States, arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday evening, September 7, to visit Archbishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam (CBCV) and prepare for the fifth meeting of bilateral commission in Hanoi. Upon his arrival, Monsignor Camilleri was warmly welcomed by Archbishop Đọc. In the companion of Archbishop Đọc, the Holy See delegation spent a full day, September 8, meeting with all representatives of the clergy, religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City before heading north to Hanoi for official meetings with Vietnamese authority on September 10 and 11.
In the morning of September 8, Monsignor Camilleri and his entourage visited Saint Joseph Major Seminary and met with the rector as well as his faculty members and seminarians. Then the delegation paid a courtesy visit to the Cardinal emeritus John the Baptist Phạm Minh Mẫn who resides at the Pastoral Center, toured the Pastoral Center and met with the religious students at the Institute for Pastoral Studies, visited the convent of Carmelite Sisters and requested for their prayers. The Holy See delegation also had opportunity to meet with the bishops of the Saigon Ecclesial Province at the archbishop resident, followed by a fraternal luncheon reception. Later in that afternoon, the delegation stopped by the newly constructed office building of CBCV en route to the Parish of Tân Phước where Monsignor Camilleri and his entourage concelebrated with Archbishop Paul Bùi Văn Đọc at the Eucharist in attendance of thousand of parishioners.
The Holy See delegation then flew to Hanoi for 2-day meetings with the Vietnamese authority, including the courtesy visits to the deputy prime minister-cum-minister of Foreign Affairs Phạm Bình Minh and with the deputy minister of the interior-cum-chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs Phạm Dũng. Upon the accomplishment of this trip, the Holy See issues a Press Release in which it notes that “The Holy See [reaffirms] its commitment towards the goal of establishing diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and, together with the Catholic Church in the country, wishes to make more active contributions to the country’s development where the Catholic Church is strong, for example in health care, education, charity and humanitarian works.”
In a special interview with CBCV’s media on September 10, Archbishop president of CBCV commented: “As I accompanied the Holy See delegation on their visits in our Archdiocese, I have to acknowledge that they found so much joy and hope in the local Church. Hundreds of seminarians, the parishioners, and the priests brought joyful sentiment to the Holy See delegation.” Looking forward to the 5th meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group, Archbishop president of CBCV pointed out: Pope Francis is very clear on his agenda in dealing with the States. It must not be merely a dialogue of politics but of charity. This dialogue opens the pathway of hope that the Church in Vietnam can be more active in serving the people with many charitable and humanitarian projects. The Holy See also acknowledged with appreciation that “the Vietnamese State has facilitated working visits to Vietnam by the non-resident special envoy of the Holy See to Vietnam, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli.”
The Joint Working Group discloses: The meeting took place in a sincere, candid and mutually respectful atmosphere.