Vatican pushes for diplomatic ties with Beijing

The Vatican is actively pursuing diplomatic ties with mainland China, a top Vatican foreign affairs official said.

Catholic World News reports that in separate interviews that appeared on Chinese media, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, said that Pope Benedict has an active interest in establishing ties with Beijing.

The archibishop said that the pope intended to signal his concern and respect for China by conferring a red hat on Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun of Hong Kong.

Archbishop Lajolo said that the Vatican is confident the gesture would be interpreted positively and that relations between the two states would improve, despite the "conflicting signs" from Beijing in recent weeks.

The archibishop strongly defended Cardinal Zen's stance in favour of religious freedom in mainland China. The Chinese prelate, he said, was simply upholding human dignity, and "had not interfered in the legislative activity of the state." Religious freedom, he said, is a "fundamental right," which should not be subject to political constraints.

He said that the Vatican is seeking to fill the needs of the Church in China through better relations with the government. The archbishop said that the Chinese government "cannot ignore the desires of their people, nor the signs of the times."

Despite the contradictory signs from Beijing, Archbishop Lajolo said that the top leadership of the Chinese government is open to ties with the Vatican.

He said the Vatican is ready to make diplomatic concessions, as long as those concessions do not affect the vital mission of the Church. The archibishop said that the Vatican is willing to move its embassy from Taiwan "immediately" if diplomatic ties with Beijing are established.

In return, the archbishop said, the Chinese government must recognise the essential structure of the Church, and the need to conduct the affairs of the Chinese Church in keeping with the requirements of canon law. One essential point would be the government's recognition that the Pope has sole authority to name bishops, said Archibishop Lajolo.

Questioned about the possibility of a papal trip to China, Archbishop Lajolo said that the pope would visit only if the proper conditions can be established. He said that if an invitation Beijing arrived for 2008 - the year when China is hosting the Olympic Games - "I believe that he would not hesitate" to accept the invitation.

Since the start of his pontificate, Benedict XVI has made a series of diplomatic overtures to Beijing. By elevating Cardinal Zen, the Pope took a new step toward the revival of diplomatic accords between Rome and Beijing, which were broken off in 1951.

Vatican pushes for diplomatic ties with Beijing (Catholic World News 27/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)


The Incarnation is the origin of the Church (Vatican Information Service 25/3/06 - temporary url)
Letter to Afghan President on the case of Abdul Rahman (Vatican Information Service 25/3/06 - temporary url)
Christian faith is a personal encounter with Christ (Vatican Information Service 26/3/06 - temporary url)
Pope encourages Christians in difficult situations (Vatican Information Service 26/3/06 - temporary url)
Cardinals and Pope continue to meet in service of Church (Vatican Information Service 27/3/06 - temporary url)
Pope urges Beijing to open dialogue (Reuters/MSNBC 27/3/06)
Pope: Consistory is near to Christians persecuted and killed for their faith (AsiaNews.it 26/3/06)
Pope's stance on gays 'like Hitler' (Belfast Telegraph 27/3/06)
Pope Benedict urges world solidarity with persecuted Christians (Catholic News Agency 27/3/06)
Pope Benedict: New cardinals are called to serve Church as spouses (Catholic News Agency 27/3/06)
Pope promises further collaboration with College of Cardinals (Catholic News Agency 27/3/06)
Vatican announces conditions for establishing official relations with China (Catholic News Agency 27/3/06)
Pope appeals for Afghan convert's life (Catholic World News 27/3/06)
Vatican Sees Warming Relations With China (The Guardian/Associated Press 27/3/06)
Pope's stance on gays 'like Hitler' (Irish Independent 27/3/06)
Pope Benedict XVI: To the newly created Cardinals, their family members and pilgrims present at the Consistory (March 27, 2006)
Benedict XVI Recalls Martyred Missionaries (Zenit 26/3/06)
New Cardinals Get a Ring and a Request (Zenit 26/3/06)
Vatican: "Time Ripe" for Ties With Beijing (Zenit 26/3/06)
Pope's Homily at Mass With New Cardinals (Zenit 26/3/06)

28 Mar 2006