Decision of the Holy See to appoint a non-residential representative to Vietnam has been received with mixed reactions among Vietnamese Catholics. Optimists have expressed little hopes, while others believe Rome has been fooled by the communist government.

The announcement of a plan to name a “non-resident representative” of the Holy See to the Vietnamese government came on June 26 at the conclusion of talks in Rome between Vatican and Vietnamese diplomatic representatives. The talks were the second formal session, after years of informal talks aimed to revive diplomatic ties.

Upon receiving the news of the new round of talks in Rome, Catholics in Vietnam have been called to pray for the Holy See to make calculated moves that will benefit Vietnamese Catholics. The moderate results from the talks have been welcomed by many. But the public reaction has been a far cry from what supposed to be a joyful event for the Vietnamese Church.

Despite a series of crackdowns against the Church in Vietnam in recent years, Vietnamese representatives had claimed a “consistent policy of respect for freedom of religion and belief as well as the legal provisions to guarantee its implementation” in the statement. On its side, Vatican also thinks there has been progress in bilateral relations.

The statement, hence, has stirred up grievance among some Vietnamese Catholics who concern that the Vietnamese government’s direct conduit to Rome might have the effect of weakening the local bishops who have often clashed with the government on issues involving the freedom to worship and the control of properties owned by the Church but seized by the Communist regime.

Dominican Fr. Do Xuan Que, writes "Vietnamese Catholics have lost a lot of confidence in the politics of Vatican Diplomacy and the Conference of Bishops. They do not believe in the path, and are convinced that the Vatican does not understand the Vietnamese Church and does not know the actual reality of this Church”.

Rumours circulating across the Internet suggest that the Holy See, in order to exchange for moderate progress in diplomatic relations, had conceded to pressure from the communist government for the removal of Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, former Archbishop of Hanoi, a thorn in the eyes of the Vietnamese government, who had been becoming so popular to the Vietnamese public as the voice for the oppressed.

The prelate, however, has repeatedly reiterated that he had not suffered any pressure from the Holy See and the country's Episcopal Conference to resign.