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Vatican     CHINESE CATHOLIC LEADER PLAYS DOWN SPLIT WITH ROME
China's government-sanctioned Catholic church has informal contacts with the Vatican, but won't consider official ties until the Holy See breaks diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the head of the Chinese church said Wednesday.
    The comments by Bishop Fu Tieshan were unusually conciliatory amid a crackdown on unofficial religious activity. An underground priest loyal to Rome was sentenced to six years in prison in May for printing unauthorized bibles.
    But Fu, chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said priests of the state church occasionally meet informally with Vatican officials.
    "There are some contacts between friends and individuals," Fu said. "For instance, the head of the church in Rome and the head of the church in China have some personal contact."
    The bishop spoke in a rare interview before he and other Chinese religious leaders leave for the U.N. Millennium World Peace Summit to be held in New York at the end of this month.
   
AP
   
18 Aug 00



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