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Cablegate: Vatican Names Two New Bishops, Gvn Schedules Ordinations

VZCZCXRO9259
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHHI #1193 2940834
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 200834Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8636
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0058

UNCLAS HANOI 001193

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/IRF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL KIRF VM
SUBJECT: VATICAN NAMES TWO NEW BISHOPS, GVN SCHEDULES ORDINATIONS

1. (SBU) On October 15, Pope Benedict XVI named two auxiliary
bishops for Vietnam -- one each for the archdioceses of Hanoi and Ho
Chi Minh City. The new bishop in Hanoi, Father Laurent Chu Van
Minh, is viewed as a close ally of Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet,
and until now has served as rector of the seminary in Hanoi. The
ordination of Bishop Minh, 64, has been scheduled for December 5 in
Minh's birthplace of Nam Dinh province outside of Hanoi. Bishop
Minh's ordination fills a five-year vacancy.

2. (SBU) Father Pierre Nguyen Van Kham, 56, currently the executive
secretary of the Episcopal conference, was named as a second
auxiliary bishop for the much larger Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese.
Bishop Kham's ordination has been scheduled for November 11. (Note:
A third bishop, Cosme Hoang Van Dat, 61, was ordained as the bishop
of Bac Ninh on October 7, becoming the first Jesuit Bishop in the
history of the Catholic Church in Vietnam. End note.)


3. (SBU) COMMENT: Despite recent tension with the Catholic Church
over land disputes in Hanoi -- or perhaps because of them -- the GVN
has moved swiftly to ordain new bishops named by the Vatican.
Particularly noteworthy is Bishop Minh. Given his reputation as a
strong supporter of the embattled Archbishop Kiet, there had been
speculation that the GVN would delay his ordination. The quick
approval of his ordination shows the GVN is determined to portray
the land-use controversy as a separate issue that does not impinge
on the government's overall relations with the Catholic community.
The ordinations also likely demonstrate a desire to enhance
relations with the Vatican. END COMMENT.

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