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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04VATICAN337 2004-01-30 12:07:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
Cable title:  

IRF: CARDINAL SEES OBSTACLES, PROGRESS IN VIETNAM

Tags:   CH KIRF PHUM PINR PREL VT VM PGOV SOCI 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 000337 

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR EUR/WE LEVIN; DRL/IRF FOR INBODEN; EAP/BCLTV JESS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2014
TAGS: CH KIRF PHUM PINR PREL VT VM PGOV SOCI
SUBJECT: IRF: CARDINAL SEES OBSTACLES, PROGRESS IN VIETNAM

REF: VATICAN 5352

CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR JIM NICHOLSON FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D)

-------------------------------------
CARDINAL SEES RESTRICTIONS IN VIETNAM
-------------------------------------



1. (C) AMERICAN CARDINAL BERNARD LAW REVIEWED WITH POLOFF
JANUARY 28 HIS MID-DECEMBER TRIP TO VIETNAM AT THE INVITATION
OF VIETNAM'S NEW CARDINAL, JEAN-BAPTISTE PHAM MINH MAN. LAW
SAID HE SAW NO SIGNS THAT THE GVN WAS EVEN INCHING TOWARDS
ALLOWING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH A ROLE IN CIVIL SOCIETY THROUGH
TRADITIONAL MEANS SUCH AS SOCIAL SERVICES AND EDUCATION. HE
LAMENTED THE BACKLOG OF STUDENTS APPROVED FOR CATHOLIC
SEMINARIES WHO WERE NOT ALLOWED TO PURSUE A VOCATION BECAUSE
OF GOVERNMENT OBSTRUCTION. LAW WENT ON TO RECOUNT AN
INCIDENT SURROUNDING PLANS HE HAD MADE TO SAY MASS AT A RURAL
MONASTERY. THOUGH THE ARRANGEMENTS WERE INFORMAL AND
UNPUBLICIZED, LAW DISCOVERED UPON ARRIVAL AT THE MONASTERY
THAT HIS HOSTS SAID THEY HAD BEEN CALLED BY THE POLICE A HALF
HOUR BEFORE AND FORBIDDEN TO ALLOW "THE FOREIGNER" TO PRESIDE
AT MASS.



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AND SOME HOPEFUL SIGNS


--------------------------





2. (C) DESPITE THE STALEMATE ON THE CIVIL SOCIETY FRONT, LAW
DID SEE PROGRESS IN OTHER AREAS. CARDINAL MAN TOLD HIM THAT
HE HAD RECEIVED PROMPT PERMISSION FROM THE GOVERNMENT TO
TRANSFER OVER 30 PRIESTS RECENTLY, INCLUDING THREE TO STUDY
ABROAD. ALTHOUGH LAW SAID IT WAS REGRETTABLE SUCH PERMISSION
WAS NEEDED, HE BELIEVED THE FACT THAT IT WAS GRANTED -- AND
QUICKLY -- WAS NOTABLE. LAW ALSO REPORTED THAT SOME BISHOPS
HE KNOWS IN VIETNAM ARE MEETING REGULARLY WITH LAY CATHOLIC
GROUPS ORGANIZED AROUND DIFFERENT THEMES. FURTHER, PERHAPS
SOME DEGREE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS INDICATED BY A REPORT TO
CARDINAL LAW FROM THE BISHOP OF HUNG HOA, WHO SAID THAT HE
HAD SEEN A FLURRY OF NEW CONVERSIONS TO CATHOLICISM IN HIS
DIOCESE, DESPITE A LACK OF CLERGY. SOME ARE APPARENTLY
TUNING IN TO EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN RADIO TRANSMITTED FROM
OUTSIDE VIETNAM, AND THEN SEEKING THE NEAREST CHRISTIAN
CHURCH, IN MOST CASES, CATHOLIC ONES.



--------------------------



--------------------------


REPORT URGES ATTENTION TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ISSUES


--------------------------



--------------------------





3. (C) CARDINAL LAW WROTE A REPORT FOR THE HOLY SEE BASED ON
HIS TRIP, THAT WILL LIKELY BE DISSEMINATED TO THE SECRETARIAT
OF STATE AND OTHER OFFICES CONCERNED WITH RELIGIOUS FREEDOM.
IN IT HE CAUTIONED AGAINST THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
DEVELOPING A POLICY TOWARDS VIETNAM SIMILAR TO ASPECTS OF ITS
APPROACH TO CHINA, IN WHICH (LAW WROTE) IT PURSUES ECONOMIC
OPPORTUNITY, BUT SOMETIMES DOES NOT DO ALL IT CAN TO ADDRESS
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES.



--------------------------


COMMENT: A USEFUL CONTACT


--------------------------





4. (C) THOUGH HE IS CURRENTLY OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT DUE TO
THE MEDIA'S FIXATION ON HIM AS THE CHIEF SCAPEGOAT OF THE
CATHOLIC CHURCH'S SEXUAL ABUSE CRISIS, LAW HAS LONG BEEN
ACTIVE IN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
AT THE U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS. HE IS ALSO WELL
CONNECTED TO THE AMERICAN VIETNAMESE COMMUNITY THROUGH HIS
MINISTRY TO THE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES OF BOSTON. HE IS A
MEMBER OF THE PONTIFICAL CONGREGATION FOR THE EASTERN
CHURCHES, THE CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION, AND THE
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY, AMONG OTHER VATICAN
STRUCTURES. ALTHOUGH HE SPENDS SOME TIME IN ROME IN
CONNECTION WITH HIS WORK WITH THESE ORGANIZATIONS, HE NOW
LIVES PERMANENTLY IN MARYLAND, AND COULD BE A USEFUL CONTACT
FOR DRL/IRF.

NICHOLSON

NNNN

2004VATICA00337 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL