Thu, Jan 25, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Vatican-China ties talk premature: source

By Lu Yi-hsuan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Andrew Lee speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Following media reports of the Vatican considering severing ties with Taiwan and recognizing China, a source close to the government’s diplomatic establishment yesterday said it is premature to discuss the possibility of formal Vatican-Chinese diplomatic relations.

The Vatican reportedly dispatched a delegation to China to offer formal diplomatic ties and was willing to order two bishops it appointed to step aside for Beijing’s appointees.

Another possible scenario reportedly involved the drafting of an agreement between the Vatican and China on a common process for appointing bishops.

However, the group referred to in the reports was the seventh delegation of a routine work group between the Holy See and Beijing, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Both sides are believed to have made compromises at the meeting and reports asserting that the Vatican made unilateral concessions are false, the source said.

Citing the Union of Catholic Asian News, an independent Catholic news agency, the source said the meeting tentatively proposed that the Vatican accept China’s seven “unlawfully appointed bishops,” while China is to recognize 20 Vatican-appointed bishops.

The results of the negotiations were not wholly positive nor negative for China, the source said, adding that Vatican-Chinese interactions have many obstacles, chief among them are the investiture of bishops, Beijing’s concern for maintaining domestic stability and the Vatican’s concern for religious freedom.

Additionally, factions within the Vatican might object to extending diplomatic recognition to China instead of Taiwan, the source said.

“There is a long way to go before this becomes an imminent concern,” the source said.

Asked to comment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said at a news conference that the Vatican regularly briefs Taiwan on its interactions with Beijing, adding that the government is monitoring the situation.

The Vatican is the nation’s sole European diplomatic ally, and although its informal relations with China have improved over the past few years, whether the Vatican or Beijing has the right to name bishops in China remains a bone of contention, he said.

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