DONG NAI (VNS)— The 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences began yesterday in the Xuan Loc Diocese in southern Dong Nai Province, with participants from Asia, Europe, Australia and the Vatican.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the assembly, Pham Dung, head of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, said that Catholicism had developed in Viet Nam for almost 500 years and had made many contributions in various sectors of society.
Dung, who is also Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, said Viet Nam had achieved positive changes from innovation, including those in its policy on religion.
"The State has been applying a consistent policy on religion, ensuring religious freedom for residents as well as showing the highest respect to psychological and religious values, including those of Catholicism," he said.
He also praised the contributions of Catholic officials and followers for their concerns about the happiness, welfare and sustainability of all residents.
The assembly, held in Viet Nam for the first time, is taking place from December 10-16, with a final ceremony in HCM City at the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Participating are 122 cardinals, archbishops, bishops and church representatives, including Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, Special Envoy of Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Oswald Cracias, FABC Secretary General.
The FABC was formed in 1970 in Manila by an archbishops' committee composed of members of Asian countries that have joint responsibility for Asian churches.
It has 18 official members, including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Singapore and other 13 unofficial members.
The ninth FABC assembly was held in Manila in 2009. — VNS