Healthy collaboration between church, government possible, says pope


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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church is not a threat to the Vietnamese government and a healthy collaboration between the two is possible, Pope Benedict XVI told Vietnamese bishops.

The church "has absolutely no intention of substituting itself with those in charge of governing, but it only wishes to be able to play an appropriate part in the life of the nation and being at the service of the people in a spirit of dialogue and respectful collaboration," he said.

The pope met with bishops from Vietnam during an audience June 27 at the Vatican. The bishops were making their "ad limina" visits to Rome to report on the status of their dioceses.

"Healthy collaboration between the church and the political community is possible," the pope told the bishops.

Lay people and families also can play an important role in building a society marked by justice, solidarity and equality, he said.

The Catholic family should nurture and be the source of human values and virtues and be "a school of faith and love toward God," he said, adding that proper formation was, therefore, critical.