Vatican considering cutting ties with Taiwan
The Vatican is reluctantly ready to cut ties with Taiwan and recognise China if Beijing can guarantee religious freedom, according to Hong Kong's Bishop Joseph Zen.
But the Reuters report says a top Vatican diplomat denied any change to its position and said it did not expect any movement until after the election of a successor to Pope John Paul.
Speaking to Reuters, Bishop Zen played down media reports quoting him as saying that the Holy See was "thinking of giving up" Taiwan, which China's communist rulers have treated as a breakaway province since winning the civil war in 1949.
Beijing severed relations with the Holy See in the 1950s after expelling foreign clergy. Believers today must attend state-sanctioned churches which pledge loyalty to Beijing, although many secretly acknowledge the Pope's authority.
"If the Chinese government is willing to grant real freedom to the church in mainland China, then the Vatican would reluctantly be willing to give up its diplomatic relations with Taiwan," Zen said.
"The unfair thing is, Beijing wants the Vatican to stop its relations with Taiwan first before it will talk with the Vatican."
China and the Vatican have shown signs of rapprochement in the past only to hit new lows, and Beijing, concerned about challenges to Communist Party rule, is unlikely to relinquish control over religious groups.
Vatican Mulls Cutting Ties with Taiwan-Bishop (Reuters 5/4/05)
In 2004, 90pc of the executions in the world held in China (AsiaNews.it 5/4/05)
State Catholic church mourns Pope (The Sunday Times 6/4/05)
Vatican, China pact on religion (The Age 6/4/05)
China blocks web comments on pope (The Age/AFP 5/4/05)
Chinese government feared John Paul II, analyst concludes (Catholic World News 5/4/05)
6 Apr 2005