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Roman Catholic Cardinal Ordains Priests in Vietnam

Thousands of people packed the streets outside a Catholic cathedral in Vietnam's capital Tuesday during the ordination of 57 Vietnamese priests by a visiting senior Vatican official.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, head of the Vatican's missionary arm Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, led the ceremony in Hanoi's Saint Joseph's Cathedral.

Cardinal Sepe also met with Vietnam's deputy prime minister, Vu Khoan. Last week, the Vatican announced the creation of a new diocese in Vietnam. The events highlight improving relations between the officially atheist nation and the Roman Catholic church.

With at least six million faithful, Vietnam has the second-largest Catholic community in Asia, after the Philippines. It does not have diplomatic ties with the Vatican.

Relations have been strained in the past by Hanoi's insistence on having the final say in most church appointments.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.