Fri, Feb 24, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Hong Kong bishop hopes to mend Vatican, PRC ties

AFP , HONG KONG

Hong Kong's outspoken Catholic Bishop Joseph Zen (陳日君), who has become the sixth Chinese in history to be named a cardinal, said yesterday he hoped to end the 55-year dispute between the Vatican and China.

He said Pope Benedict XVI's decision to choose a Chinese cardinal showed he attached great importance to the millions of Catholics in China.

"This showed that he really values China and I hope we will be able to rebuild the relationship between China and the Vatican," he told reporters.

Relations between China and the Holy See have been strained ever since Beijing expelled the Vatican's ambassador in 1951, a move followed by a cut in diplomatic ties.

Over the past decade, however, the Vatican has attempted to repair ties with Beijing.

The Chinese government has repeatedly said it is willing to improve relations with the Vatican only if it breaks off ties with Taiwan, and promises not to interfere in China's internal affairs.

Zen said the two conditions could be "easily solved" saying the Holy See was ready to switch diplomatic ties to China from Taiwan.

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