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Vatican gives Dalai Lama visit low profile

Pope John Paul met the Dalai Lama yesterday but the Vatican, which has very thorny relations with China, gave the visit a low profile.

The name of the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet did not appear on the list of people received by the pope in the Vatican's daily bulletin as the names of most high-profile visitors usually do.

A spokesman said this was because it was "an exclusively religious visit" although other such visits with religious leaders have been listed.

The Vatican has difficult ties with China. Chinese Catholics are not allowed to recognise the pope's authority and must join a state-backed "patriotic church".

The Vatican says the Communist government persecutes Catholics and estimates that eight million Chinese who are loyal to the pope worship secretly in underground churches.

Relations between China and the Tibetan figurehead have appeared to thaw in the past year and a half, but China still objects to governments talking to the Dalai Lama and protested in September when he met President Bush.

Vatican Gives Dalai Lama Visit Low Profile (Reuters/Yahoo 28/11/03)

Vatican Plays Down Pope's Meeting with Dalai Lama (The Scotsman/AP 27/11/03)
Pope meets Dalai Lama today (Independent Catholic News 27/11/03)
Dalai Lama Discusses China, Tibet Issue (AP/Durham Herald-Sun 26/11/03)

28 Nov 2003