Vatican has high hopes of better ties with China

The faithful attend the Angelus prayer led by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Aug. 14, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Max Rossi

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is hopeful it can improve ties with China after decades of tension, the Roman Catholic Church’s highest-ranking diplomat said on Saturday, adding that warmer relations would benefit the whole world.

Beijing severed links with the Vatican in 1951 shortly after the Communist Party took power and launched a crackdown on organised religion, with China’s new rulers setting up their own church and appointing bishops without the pope’s backing.

After decades of mistrust, Pope Francis is pushing to improve relations and his secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sounded upbeat about the chances of success.

“There is much hope and expectation that there will be new developments and a new season in relations between the Holy See and China,” he said in a speech in the northern Italian city of Pordenone, which was released to reporters in the Vatican.

“(This) will benefit not just Catholics in the land of Confucius, but the whole country, which boasts one of the greatest civilisations on the planet,” he said.

“Dare I say, it would also be of benefit to an ordered, peaceful and fruitful cohabitation of peoples of all nations in a world, such as ours, which is lacerated by so many tensions and so many conflicts.”

For China, good relations could burnish its international image and soften criticism of its human rights record.

The Vatican is the only Western state that does not have diplomatic ties with Beijing, maintaining instead formal relations with the Republic of China, Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province.

Parolin made clear the Vatican wanted formal ties. “The new and hoped-for good relations with China, including diplomatic relations, God willing, are not an end in themselves,” he said, reiterating that they would be good for world peace.

A Reuters investigation this year suggested the Vatican and China were working on a deal that would fall short of full diplomatic ties but would address key issues at the heart of the divide between the two sides.

“One has to be realistic and accept that there are a number of problems that need resolving between the Holy See and China and that often, because of their complexity, they can generate different points of view,” Parolin said.

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Jerome Socolovsky


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  • Each year during the pontificate of Pope Francis, China has been listed as second behind Burma on the U.S. State Department’s annual list of “Countries of Particular Concern” as regards freedom of religion. These governments have “engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom” defined as “including torture, degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, abduction or clandestine detention, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.”
    So anxious is the pope for a diplomatic “coup”, he has never mentioned “religious freedom” or any other human right for the Chinese.
    Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun as regards the pope’s “warmer relations”: “The Chinese communists, after they have killed hundreds of thousands, maybe they don’t need to kill so many nowadays. But the “state of violence” reigns, total denial of most basic human rights. Who doesn’t know that today Chinese communists are ever more arrogant abroad and oppressive at home? How can our most eminent Secretary of State say that “the prospective of dialogue are promising”?”

  • After signing the Munich Pact of 1938 with Hitler and Mussolini, British Prime Minister Chamberlain declared that the meeting had achieved “peace in our time.”

  • Message to the Vatican. The CCP are an atheist entity who murder their own people through torture and forced organ harvesting in the modern day. Are you thinking you can change the leopards spots? We are talking ingrained nature, so base and well disguised, it is sly and corrupt. If you wish to be dragged into the pit then go ahead. But be warned.

  • this will be a fun exercise for you. Go into the Vatican Museums trinket shop and see how many items are marked “made in china”.

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