November 26, 2009.
For the 350th anniversary of the creation of the first Catholic diocese in the country, Benedict XVI wrote a letter to the bishops of Vietnam.
The Pope wishes that the anniversary serves to strengthen their faith, because, the Pope says "sometimes it has been tested.”
Benedict XVI also requests that the celebrations lead to reconciliation with one another and God. In particular, Benedict XVI calls for recognition of "the faults of the past and present committed against fellow countrymen."
The Pope also encouraged the bishops to be united and work for a just society, solidarity and equality through genuine dialogue, mutual respect and healthy cooperation.
The letter sets the stage for a possible meeting between the pope and the president of Vietnam in the coming weeks.
The anniversary coincides with the resignation of the bishop of Hanoi. 57 year old Monsignor Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, has said he resigned for health reasons. But many Vietnamese Catholics believe it’s due to pressure from the Vietnamese government. In fact, the president of the Hanoi People's Committee asked for his resignation for allegedly "not respecting or cooperating with authorities" to end protests by Catholics for the sale of land expropriated from the Church.