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Archbishop Marek Zalewski picked as Vatican’s first resident representative in Vietnam

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – The Vatican on December 23 announced Pope Francis’ appointment of Archbishop Marek Zalewski as the first resident representative of the Holy See in Vietnam, said local news reports.

Archbishop Zalewski has been working in the Vatican’s diplomatic service since 1995 and has served in various countries. He was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Zimbabwe in 2014 and Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore with concurrent responsibilities as the non-resident special envoy of the Holy See to Vietnam in 2018.

While serving as the Vatican’s non-resident special envoy to Vietnam, in coordination with Vietnamese authorities, Archbishop Zalewski visited and engaged in pastoral activities in most dioceses of the Catholic Church in Vietnam. He also interacted with representatives from ministries, departments, and local governments throughout the country.

Diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Vatican have improved markedly, especially since the establishment of a regular dialogue mechanism by the Vietnam-Vatican Joint Working Group in 2009.

Since then, there have been numerous meetings and exchanges between high-level leaders of Vietnam and the Holy See. Notable instances include Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung with Pope Benedict XVI (2007), President Nguyen Minh Triet with Pope Benedict XVI (2009), Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong with Pope Benedict XVI (2013), Chairman of the National Assembly Nguyen Sinh Hung with Pope Francis (2014), President Tran Dai Quang with Pope Francis (2016), and most recently, between President Vo Van Thuong and Pope Francis (2023).

Both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have issued teachings, messages, and letters to the Catholic Church in Vietnam, emphasizing the spirit of “good Catholics are good citizens.” They have urged and encouraged Catholics to lead virtuous lives and contribute positively to the nation’s socio-economic development.

The two sides reached a basic agreement on the operating regulations of the permanent representative of the Holy See and the permanent representative’s office of the Holy See in Vietnam during the 10th round of the Vietnam-Vatican Joint Working Group meeting in March 2023.

They also approved the regulations during the official visit to the Vatican by President Vo Van Thuong in July 2023, marking a crucial development in Vietnam-Vatican relations. This outcome reflects a positive exchange process based on mutual respect, cooperation, and understanding, demonstrating the consistent policy of respecting and ensuring freedom of belief and religion and creating favorable conditions for the activities of religions, including the Catholic Church in Vietnam.

The appointment of Archbishop Zalewski as the first resident representative of the Holy See in Vietnam is expected to enhance ties between the Vatican and the Catholic Church in Vietnam, further strengthening exchanges between Vietnam and the Holy See.

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