Hanoi denies blocking Vatican beatification mission

Hanoi has denied blocking a Vatican mission working towards the beatification of former assistant archbishop Francois-Xavier Van Thuan from entering the country.

“Vietnamese authorities have not received any official request from the Vatican for such work to take place in Vietnam recently,” said Luong Thanh Nghi, spokesman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The comments followed reports of the government withdrawing visas for the members of the mission, which was to look for evidence of miracles attributed to Thuan. Beatification is the last stage before a person is canonized and becomes a saint.

The spokesman said that Vietnam was “always ready to create conditions for delegations appointed by the Vatican to officially work under the framework agreement of both parties.”

Thuan was assistant archbishop in South Vietnam before he was arrested at the end of the war and sent to a re-education camp for 13 years in coastal town Nha Trang. He was released in 1988.

His fortitude under apparent persecution has won him many admirers in the Catholic Church, which has had no official relations with communist Vietnam since 1975.

Thuan was also the nephew of the first president of South Vietnam, whose administration was taken over by North Vietnam at the end of the war.

He lived in exile in Rome where he was made cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2001. He died of cancer a year later.