Papal representative for Vietnam: a step toward restored ties?
January 13, 2011
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a diplomatic “representative” to Vietnam, in an indication of some movement toward the restoration of diplomatic ties.
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, who has been serving as the apostolic nuncio in Indonesia, will become the “non-resident pontifical representative for Vietnam,” the Vatican announced on January 13. The archbishop will also be apostolic nuncio to Singapore, and apostolic delegate to Malaysia and Brunei.
Vatican representatives have traveled frequently to Vietnam in an effort to restore diplomatic relations, which were broken off in 1975. While the Vietnamese regime has gradually eased restrictions on the Church, permitting the belated appointment of some bishops and allowing a greater number of young men to enter the seminary, significant restrictions on religious freedom remain in place. The Vietnamese government has also clashed repeatedly with lay Catholic activists over the confiscation of church properties.