VATICAN (CWN) -- Three new bishops have been named to dioceses in Vietnam. The announcement of those appointments-- made at the Vatican today-- suggested that a breakthrough had been achieved by the Vatican delegation which recently returned from Vietnam after a special negotiating mission.

      Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, who is now a coadjutor bishop of My Tho, was named to be the Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), the most important Catholic center in the Asian country. For several years this archbishopric has been vacant, as the consequence of an impasse in negotiations between Holy See and the government in Vietnam; the government had rejected the first Vatican nominee for the position.

      Archbishop Etienne Nguyen Nhu The of Tipasa, Mauritania-- who has been serving as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Hue-- will now officially become the archbishop there. And Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Děnh Tung of Hanoi will become the apostolic administrator of Lang Son and of Cao Bing.

      The episcopal changes were announced by the Vatican, without any further public comment, just days after the return to Rome of a delegation headed by Msgr. Celestino Migliore, which had been charged with negotiating with the Vietnam government in an effort to allow the appointment of new bishops. Vietnam, like China, has sought to establish a "patriotic" Catholic Church, in which bishops would be loyal to the national government rather than to the Holy See.

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March 10, 1998 volume 9, no. 49         DAILY CATHOLIC