The Holy See and Vietnam have never had full diplomatic relations but have engaged in formal bilateral discussions since 2009. Since 2011, the Holy See has had a nonpermanent, nonresident pontifical representative to Vietnam. At a 2018 meeting in Hanoi, Vatican and Vietnamese delegations agreed to upgrade the status of this representative to a permanent resident. As CNA previously reported, further discussions were held at the Vatican in August 2019.
Both sides voiced confidence that the papal representative will support the Vietnamese Catholic community’s efforts “in the spirit of the law” to accompany the nation, to be “good Catholics and good citizens,” and to contribute to the development of the country.
They agreed the resident papal representative will be “a bridge to advance relations between Vietnam and the Holy See.”
Catholics make up about 7.5% of Vietnam’s 97 million people, according to a July 2018 estimate by the U.S. government. Most Vietnamese practice folk religions, followed by Buddhism.
The Vietnamese constitution guarantees individual freedom of belief and individual religious freedom. However, the law also allows significant government control over religious practice and religious freedom may be restricted in the interest of national security and social unity, according to the 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom from the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.