Screenshot of Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli from a video taken in Singapore
The Vatican has sent its first representative to Vietnam since 1975 on a "historic" visit to the communist nation, said an AFP report on Google News.
The trip by Holy See envoy Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli is part of efforts to improve ties between the two states, which have no diplomatic relations.
He presented his letter of credentials issued by Pope Benedict XVI to Archbishop Nguyen Van Nhon, who heads the Catholic church in Vietnam, during a meeting of bishops in Ho Chi Minh City, the church's website said.
Last week in Hanoi the envoy met Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, who "acknowledged recent encouraging progress in relations with the Vatican," the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported earlier.
The envoy expressed happiness at his visit, "a historical moment as it was the first time since 1975 the Vietnamese church has an envoy of the pope", the church said in a statement dated Tuesday.
Catholic land confiscated since the end of French colonial rule in 1954 remains a contentious issue between the church and state, and has led to demonstrations, the AFP report adds. Religious activity remains under state control.
Vatican envoy in 'historic' visit: Vietnamese church (Google News/AFP)
Screenshot of Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli from a video taken in Singapore, uploaded to YouTube