VATICAN DELEGATION HEADS FOR VIETNAM

     VATICAN (CWN) -- The Holy See has sent an official delegation to Vietnam, to discuss the difficulties between the Catholic Church and the government of that country. The Vatican delegation, which left Rome yesterday, was led by Msgr. Celestino Miglior, the under-secretary of state for relations with states, and Msgr. Barnabus Nguyen Van Phuong, an official of the Congregation for Evangelization.

      A similar visit, in 1996, helped to break an impasse over the appointment of an apostolic administrator to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). The government had prevented Bishop Huynh Van Nghi, the Vatican's choice, from assuming that role; a compromise allowed the nomination of two coadjutor bishops. But at the time, after returning to Rome, Bishop Claudio Maria Celli told a Vatican Radio audience that "the Vietnamese government and the Holy See are not on the same wave length" on questions of religious freedom. Later in 1996, the government prohibited several Catholic bishops from visiting Rome for their scheduled ad limina visit.

      The Vatican does not have formal diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

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February 26, 1998 volume 9, no. 41         DAILY CATHOLIC