INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Vietnam's President Meets with Catholic Leaders

Published: Fri 29 Sep 2006 10:14 AM
VZCZCXRO2478
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHHI #2510/01 2721014
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291014Z SEP 06 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3566
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 1899
RUEHZS/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0001
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002510
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/IRF, EUR/WE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KIRF PHUM PGOV HUMANR VM
SUBJECT: VIETNAM'S PRESIDENT MEETS WITH CATHOLIC LEADERS
REF: HCMC 1047 AND PREVIOUS
SUMMARY AND COMMENT
-------------------
1. (SBU) On September 28, State President Nguyen Minh Triet met with
leaders of Vietnam's Catholic Church for the first time since taking
office in June. During the meeting, Triet underlined the GVN's
willingness to allow Catholics to become more involved in Vietnam's
socio-economic development. Though the government privately
downplayed the significance of this "courtesy call" meeting, the
Catholics were very pleased, especially since Triet was willing to
frankly discuss issues related to property disputes and GVN
permission for Church officials to visit remote parts of the county.
We will continue to encourage the GVN to allow the space for
Catholics to conduct charitable and humanitarian programs in
Vietnam. End Summary and Comment.
2. (SBU) On September 29, Vietnamese media widely carried reports of
a meeting in Hanoi between President Triet and the Catholic Church's
Episcopal Council of Bishops. In addition to the President,
Chairman Ngo Yen Thi of the GVN's Committee on Religious Affairs
(CRA) participated in the meeting. The Catholics were led by Bishop
Nguyen Van Hoa, President of the Council. Hanoi Archbishop Ngo
Quang Kiet, Hue Archbishop Pham Nhu The and Ho Chi Minh City
Cardinal Pham Minh Man were also members of the Catholic delegation.
In its reporting, the media emphasized the GVN's support for
Catholic efforts to become more involved in charitable and social
development projects while highlighting "national solidarity" on
religious freedom.
3. (SBU) CRA officials informed us that the meeting was merely a
courtesy call on the President and "nothing substantive was
discussed." According to a close aide to Hanoi Archbishop Ngo Quang
Kiet, the meeting was made at the request of members of the
Episcopal Council who had wanted to congratulate the new State
President in person. The aide stated that after formal greetings,
Triet asked the bishops to brief him on the status of outstanding
issues and problems for the Church.
4. (SBU) Archbishop Man advocated for permission for the Church to
become more involved in charitable and humanitarian projects, the
aide continued. Archbishop The explained the Church's pending
property issues (reftels). Hung Hoa Diocese Bishop Chuong also
outlined the difficulties faced by Church leaders trying to minister
to Catholics in remote parts of the country, particularly in the
northwestern region, including Son La Province. President Triet
told the bishops that he was surprised to hear that Catholic clergy
still have not been able to visit places within their bishoprics in
these regions. Regarding property issues, Triet also said he would
ask relating agencies to speed up the process. As State President,
Triet promised "to continue encouraging the Church to be more
involved in charitable and humanitarian activities/projects," the
aide added.
5. (SBU) Kiet's aide noted that, despite the fact that Triet failed
to suggest any specific measures that may help to bring immediate
solutions to pending problems, the bishops attending the meeting
found it encouraging that the State President took such an open and
constructive approach to the problems of the Church. The bishops
were also glad that Triet did not attempt to use previous GVN
excuses like "time is needed to educate local officials," or similar
reasons, to justify their unwillingness to help solve the Church's
problems. Instead, Triet acknowledged that local officials must
"address pending issues facing the Church as soon as possible within
their scope of their duties and responsibilities," the aide added.
Comment
-------
6. (SBU) It remains to be seen whether Triet's highly publicized
support for the Catholic's efforts to engage in humanitarian and
charitable works aimed at poverty alleviation and healthcare will
have a real impact on the ground. Italso is notable that no mention
was made of allowing the Church to enter the realm of education. As
with similar statements in the past, the real question is if the GVN
actually wants to allow the Church to establish more socio-economic
development and charitable programs. That the Catholics report that
Triet is at least willing to discuss the issues facing the Church in
a frank and open manner is an encouraging sign. We will continue to
urge the GVN at every opportunity to allow more space for the Church
to contribute to society in this way. End Comment.
7. (SBU) Begin verbatim text of Vietnam news report:
State President Nguyen Minh Triet has affirmed the Party and State's
consistent policy of respecting freedom of religion and belief, as
HANOI 00002510 002 OF 002
well as creating favorable conditions for religious followers to
contribute to national development and implement social and
religious affairs.
President Triet made the affirmation while receiving bishops of the
Viet Nam Episcopal Council in Ha Noi on September 28.
The State leader stressed that the tradition of great national unity
was a source of strength and a driving force in the cause of
national construction and defense.
"National unity and solidarity among religions are of important
significance that contribute to the success of the renewal process
and lead the country forwards on the path of national
industrialization and modernization," he said.
The President urged the council to encourage Catholic followers to
make practical contributions to the cause of national development
and help foreign friends better understand Viet Nam's renewal
achievements as well as its policy on freedom of religion and
belief.
Bishop Nguyen Van Hoa, President of the Viet Nam Episcopal Council,
expressed his thanks to the Party and State for their care for
Catholics and joy at the country's achievements in socio-economic
development, hunger eradication and poverty reduction over the past
years.
The bishops pledged to support and make more contributions to social
affairs, hunger eradication and poverty reduction and national
cultural identity preservation.
End text of report.
ALOISI
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media