Vatican Appoints Resident Papal Envoy for Vietnam amid Strengthening Ties
Vatican Appoints Resident Pa...
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Vatican Appoints Resident Papal Envoy for Vietnam amid Strengthening Ties

25 December 2023
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2 min.
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Vatican Appoints Resident Papal Envoy for Vietnam amid Strengthening Ties

Faith and Diplomacy

Pope Francis appoints Archbishop Marek Zalewski as the first resident papal representative to Vietnam, signaling a key step in improving relations with the communist-led nation and its growing Catholic community.

Zalewski, previously serving as the non-resident representative to Vietnam from Singapore since 2018, has been named the resident papal ambassador to Vietnam, according to Vatican News.

The formalization of this change in the status of the 60-year-old Polish archbishop occurred during President Vo Van Thuong's visit to the Vatican earlier this year, marking a diplomatic agreement between the two parties.

While the Vietnam government announced this significant development on Christmas Eve, it's essential to note that full diplomatic ties have not yet been established. Discussions regarding the renewal of the relationship have been ongoing since the 1990s.

The roots of strained ties trace back to 1975 when Vietnam severed connections with the Vatican following the communist ascent to power at the end of the Vietnam War. The Catholic Church, at the time, was perceived as being closely associated with France, the former colonial power.

With nearly six million Catholics in Vietnam, constituting about 6.1% of the population according to the 2019 census, this community plays a pivotal role in the nation's religious landscape.

Despite constitutional provisions for freedom of religion in Vietnam, the Union of Catholic Asian News reports various challenges faced by the Catholic Church, including restrictions on the number of parishes, mandatory yearly plans for religious activities, and a prohibition on church property ownership.

In light of recent events, the Vietnamese government has affirmed that the appointment of the resident papal ambassador is in line with its steadfast commitment to respecting and safeguarding the freedom of religion and belief.

Persons3 and Companies2 in the news

President of Vietnam
1 place
Polish prelate of the Catholic Church
2 place
Head of the Catholic Church
3 place
Vatican News
2 place
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