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Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The third meeting of the Viet Nam - Holy See Joint Working Group took place in Hanoi, Viet Nam, on 27 and 28 February. The meeting was co-chaired by Bui Thanh Son, vice minister for Foreign Affairs and head of the Vietnamese delegation, and by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for Relations with States and head of the Holy See delegation.

The meeting, which "took place in an atmosphere of cordiality, frankness and mutual respect" according to the final communique, served to examine international issues, to review progress in relations following the working group's second meeting in June 2010, and to discuss issues related to the Catholic Church in Viet Nam.

"The Vietnamese delegation", the English-language communique reads, "emphasised that the State of Viet Nam has always implemented and continually improved the policy to respect and ensure freedom of belief and religion for the people; encouraged the Catholic Church in Viet Nam to actively and effectively participate in the current course of national, economic and social development.

"From its part, the delegation of the Holy See took note of these considerations and expressed appreciation for the attention given by civil authorities to the activities of the Catholic Church. ... The Holy See expressed the wish that its role and mission be strengthened and extended in order to enhance the bonds between the Holy See and the Catholic Church in Viet Nam as well as the intention of Viet Nam and of the Holy See to develop their relationship".

The communique goes on: "Both sides recalled the teachings of His Holiness Pope Benedict's XVI, ... and his considerations concerning being a good Catholic and a good citizen, and stressed the need for continued cooperation between the Catholic Church and civil authorities in order to concretely and practically implement those teachings in all activities.

"The two sides came up with an assessment that the Viet Nam - Holy See relationship has attained positive developments on the basis of good will and constructive dialogue, as well as respect for principles in the relationship".

The next meeting will be held in the Vatican on a date to be arranged through diplomatic channels.

While in Viet Nam, the Holy See delegation paid courtesy calls to Pham Binh Minh, minister of Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Thanh Xuan, vice standing chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, and to a number of Catholic institutions.


Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The administrative council of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel (the sub-Saharan region of Africa which includes countries on the west coast and central part of the continent) recently concluded its thirtieth meeting in Rome.

Speaking on Vatican Radio, Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", of which the foundation is part, explained that the administrative council had focused its attention on the financing of a number of projects. "This year", he said, "we have assigned over two million dollars for more than 200 projects in the nine countries which make up the foundation. These projects involve the struggle against desertification and drought, as well as irrigation and education".

Msgr. Dal Toso noted that the re-emergence of the problem of drought in the Sahel highlights the urgency of the measures taken. The lack of food resulting from the impact of drought on agriculture "will reach its peak in the coming months. ... Both the international community and, more specifically, a number of Catholic organisations are seeking to intervene to prevent this crisis, he said.

The secretary of "Cor Unum" pointed out that the Church represents a minority in the countries of the Sahel. "In some cases a truly minuscule minority, in an environment characterised by the presence of Islam and of traditional religions". For this reason the John Paul II Foundation also serves as "an instrument of dialogue with other religions. ... As the Pope's teaching has recently been highlighting, faith is expressed in works, and what we manage to express through charity seeks in its own small way ... to bear witness to Christ".

The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel came into being following that Pope's first trip to Africa in May 1980, where he was greatly struck by the tragic consequences of desertification. The foundation was established with a Chirograph on 22 February 1984, and is actively involved in managing and protecting natural resources, in the struggle against drought and desertification, in rural development and in the fight against poverty, through the involvement of local people.


Vatican City, 29 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Luiz Henrique da Silva Brito of the clergy of the diocese of Campos, Brazil. diocesan chancellor, spiritual director of the diocesan seminary of "Maria Imaculada" and pastor of the parish of "Sao Benedito", as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro (area 1,261, population 6,158,000, Catholics 3,737,000, priests 602, permanent deacons 124, religious 1,044), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Sao Goncalo, Brazil in 1967 and ordained a priest in 1991. He studied in Brazil and in Rome. Apart from his pastoral work, he is defender of the bond at the ecclesiastical tribunal of the archdiocese of Niteroi and professor of moral theology at the archdiocesan seminary.
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