Sat, Mar 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan's ambassador denies rumor Vatican seeking to sever ties

CNA , ROME, WITH STAFF WRITER

The Vatican has not entered into negotiations with Beijing on the establishment of formal diplomatic ties, Taiwan's ambassador to the Holy See said on Thursday.

Ambassador Tou Chou-seng (杜筑生) made the remarks after Hong Kong's outspoken Bishop Joseph Zen (陳日君), who was to be ordained as a cardinal yesterday, said recently that the time was ripe for the Vatican and China to forge diplomatic ties and that he hoped the goal could be achieved before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

diplomatic relations

Noting that the Vatican had never hidden its intention to establish full diplomatic relations with China, Tou said the two sides still had differences of opinion on matters of religious freedom and the appointment of Catholic bishops.

Describing Zen's remarks as being of a personal nature, Tou said the Vatican had not commented on the matter.

To the best of his understanding, Tou said, the Vatican and China had not yet begun negotiating, nor drawn up a timetable for forging diplomatic ties.

Tou said he respected Zen's frankness, but hoped Zen would take the feelings of the Taiwanese into account when making public comments.

cardinal

Zen will be one of the first bishops elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, who succeeded Pope John Paul II. Zen's elevation is expected to be greeted with much pride and excitement by Catholics in Hong Kong, as it is seen as a recognition of the bishop's stance on social justice and as an honor for the church in Hong Kong.

Tou was invited to attend the ceremony, scheduled to be held yesterday.

Tou said he would congratulate Zen on behalf of the government and extend an open invitation for the bishop to visit Taiwan at his convenience.

Tou said that ties between Taiwan and the Vatican remained firm and that the Vatican was pleased with the nation's respect for religious freedom and welcomed its efforts to promote freedom, peace and charity around the world.

According to Tou, a senior Vatican official had assured him that the Holy See would not seek diplomatic ties with China at Taiwan's expense.

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