No China ties unless Vatican appoints bishops

In an interview on a visit to Japan, former Holy See foreign minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo has reiterated that the Vatican and China will only be able to establish diplomatic ties if China allows the pope to appoint bishops in the country.

On his first visit to Japan, the archbishop, currently governor of Vatican City, also said that even though the bishops appointed by the Vatican are not allowed to exercise authority in China, more than 85 percent of those appointed by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which is under the control of the Chinese government, later asked to be recognised by the pope, The Daily Yomiuri reports.

Explaining the desire of the Holy See to have diplomatic relations with China, Archbishop Lajolo said that China is estimated to have from 8 to 18 million Catholics.

"Given such a multitude of faithful, the pope wishes to have his representatives there in order to take care of their pastoral needs," Archbishop Lajolo said.

"The Chinese government under certain conditions would be ready to accept a representative of the pope, but only as an apostolic nuncio [ambassador].

"The Holy See, for its part, sets a preliminary condition for sending an apostolic nuncio - the freedom of the pope to appoint bishops.

"Certainly the role of the apostolic nuncio would be beneficial in safeguarding religious freedom," Archbishop Lajolo said.

According to the governor of the Vatican city state, the real obstacle comes from the Chinese government, which is not yet willing to stop its interference in the appointments of Catholic bishops.

"The Holy See and China can easily reach an understanding once this preliminary question is resolved," he concluded.

Pope-appointed bishops key to China-Vatican ties (Daily Yomiuri, 22/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Church in China (Wikipedia)
Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (Wikipedia)
Catholic Church in China (Catholic Hierarchy)

First state-appointed China bishop dies (CathNews, 14/5/07)
China bishop still missing (CathNews, 17/4/07)
"Christian explosion" among Chinese intellectuals, expert finds (CathNews, 23/3/07)
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Bibles for Beijing Olympics (CathNews, 12/3/07)

22 May 2007