On Tuesday, the Roman Catholic Church ordained 57 priests in Hanoi, Vietnam, the largest group ordained in the nation's history.
Cardinal Sepe conveyed to the new priests of their mission to a country of 80 million people and 6 million of whom were declared Catholics. "Preaching the Gospel is not proselytizing in the negative sense of the word, but means of sharing the joy and truth that we Christians bring to our non-Christian brothers," said the Cardinal according to the Catholic news agency AsiaNews.
The event was part of a recent growing relationship between the Vatican and Vietnam. Also this week the government approved the appointment of two new bishops named by the Vatican. There are speculations that Hanoi's recent policy toward the Roman Catholic Church is connected to its desire to join the World Trade Organization.
"This is a very special event," Hanoi Diocese spokesman Dang Duc Ngan said to the Associated Press. "Surely this is a very strong step forward in relations between the Vatican and the government of Vietnam, who have seen their dialogue flourishing."
In the annual religious freedom report released this month by the U.S. State Department, Vietnam was declared as one of the top "Country of Particular Concern," along with its neighbors Burma and China. The report indicates that the Vietnamese government continues to restrict Catholic Church training and ordination of priests and the naming of bishops.