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A breakthrough in Vietnam? Not just yet

The media is focused on a possible breakthrough between China and the Vatican. But there’s another diplomatic agreement on the cards, said Gerard O’Connell at America magazine.

Vietnam and the Holy See may be “close to establishing diplomatic relations”. Six million Vietnamese – out of a population of 91 million – are Catholic, and “the Church enjoys religious freedom, though sometimes problems surface regarding questions of justice, including requests for the return of confiscated church properties.”

A joint working group was established in 2009, and this followed several positive steps. In 1975, the communists “broke diplomatic relations with the Holy See, but they never persecuted the Catholic Church as China did.”

Today, diplomatic relations are close, but Vietnam has hesitated about a deal. Above all, this is because “Vietnam has considered China its big brother and may fear that if it were to move first in establishing diplomatic relations with the Holy See, this could upset Beijing.” So full relations may take a while.

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