Marx: “the Vibrant young Church in Vietnam”
Of the 90 million inhabitants of Vietnam’s six million Catholics. Cardinal Marx, Chairman of the German bishops ‘ conference, visited the country in early January and will be described in the German wave of his impressions.
On his nine-day trip (08. to 17. January 2016) met cardinal Reinhard Marx with the faithful, to bishops, but also representatives of the Vietnamese government.
Deutsche Welle: How alive is the Catholic Church in Vietnam?
Cardinal Marx: I’ve been in Vietnam a young and very vibrant Church. The Church wants to get involved, many Catholics want the society and take their job as Christians for other people to be there, very seriously. So far, it is the Church not be allowed, however, about kindergartens, in the School or even the University involved. Hospitals also can not operate. The Recently re-established Caritas can only be something like health stations set up in which you have a access to basic services for the Poorest can provide. And even though they are still subject to restrictions, so that there are currently only a few such stations. But the theological seminaries and Noviziate are full. This is a good sign for the future.
They also have textile plants in North and South Vietnam visited. What impression have you gained? Where do you see a role for the Catholic Church?
We had the opportunity in the North in Hanoi and in the South in Ho Chi Minh city factories of German Textilunternehmer to visit. Basically, was the impression that we of the jobs have won. Occupational health and safety regulations were adhered to, escape routes were easily accessible, the compensation was above the government prescribed minimum wage, etc
One of the companies has, what also is governed by Statute, a private Kindergarten, we will be visiting. Vietnam has in addition, however, in various free trade agreements and through the signing of treaties of the International labour organisation (ILO) committed to free trade unions allow, of the interests of the employees represented. This is not yet done. Vietnam said to us interlocutors, will do everything, just the fulfillment of these contractually secured agreements for as long as possible to delay.
But it could slowly move something. We have with Catholics speaking, their Belief as Christians, for example, for corporate co-determination. You can and should the Church support grant, as it is also part of your job is to look for social and decent working conditions. We have of such support, whereby the strength of the social commitment in the individual dioceses is different.
The relationship between Vietnamese government or the Communist party of Vietnam and the Catholic Church is strained. What do you have of the faithful and bishops to learn?
The bishops and the faithful have with us openly and without fear about the lack of religious freedom in your country spoken. Was repeated by them in public favour, which handicaps the Church is experiencing.
At the same time, however, all interlocutors pointed out, how much the Situation for the Church and for other religions in the last few years had improved. In the Seminary of the diocese of Hanoi, we have seen how large the inflow of the last few years has become, after government restrictions were fallen.
In the pilgrimage town of Tam Dao, we were able to experience what great use of an old Church again was prepared, and a community center is built. We saw Encouraging, but also, the restrictions still do not allow full enforcement of freedom of religion in Vietnam to speak of. It is also clear that our journey, and the interlocutor of the government, exactly, were observed.
Pierre Nguyen Van Nho, Archbishop of Hanoi, in front of St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi
They are also with the government at talks in Hanoi met. How have you experienced this?
The state Authorities, with whom we met, praised in the discussions throughout the valuable commitment of the Church for the people of Vietnam. They encouraged the Church to this path and to expand. The focus of discussions with the government, however, was always the religion law, the Church in Vietnam is critically expressed. I have been very clear for further steps to greater freedom of religion inserted.
The Vietnamese government wants to have this new law on religion is implemented. It calls for extensive registration and Mittelungspflichten from the side of the Church and its staff. How is the Catholic Church?
The religion law currently being discussed, would for the first time, the Act of religious communities in Vietnam, on a statutory basis. This is to be welcomed. Thus, in the previous decrees, in which these issues previously resolved, to be replaced, and greater legal certainty. It would be, if it’s a good law, not only churches, but also the other religious communities, can benefit.
At present prepare but especially two points: registration and Consent for the establishment of new religious entities, including the creation of new parishes or congregations, as well as the duty of disclosure is, in turn connected with a permit, the Jahresaktivitäten of local congregations, dioceses, and even of the bishops ‘ conference.
It was assured us, that on all of these issues at present within the Communist party of Vietnam discussed. Inasmuch as came the visit might be really at a critical time, to which we shortly before the beginning of the party Congress of the Communist party of Vietnam make it clear that the Catholic Church in a special way this debate very closely.
How do you assess the cooperation of the Catholic Church in Germany with that of Vietnam? There are concrete plans for the future?
We were to the Vietnamese Church to show that we are also personally at your side, through the commitment of our agencies in Vietnam. These collaborations are, of course, we continue. I have also, in many cases the consent of the Vietnamese Catholics know that we are living in Germany. The trip was very closely monitored. It was for the Church there and for us very important and profitable.
Reinhard cardinal Marx is Chairman of the German bishops ‘ conference.
The Interview was conducted by Rodion Ebbighausen.