Wed, Feb 07, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Vatican ties ‘inevitable,’ paper says

Reuters, BEIJING and HONG KONG

China and the Vatican will establish formal diplomatic relations sooner or later, because Pope Francis has the “wisdom” to resolve problems between the two sides, a state-run Chinese newspaper said yesterday.

A framework accord between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops is ready and could be signed in a few months in what would be an historic breakthrough in relations, a senior Vatican source said last week.

However, Cardinal Joseph Zen (陳日君), 86, the outspoken former bishop of Hong Kong, on Monday said the Vatican is selling out China’s underground Catholics and “forcing them into a bird cage,” raising the ante in his recent criticisms which had already sparked a rebuke from the Vatican.

The Global Times said a deal between Beijing and the Vatican would be “tremendously beneficial to Catholics.”

“Despite the difficult process, China’s vast numbers of non-Catholics have never been strongly against the Vatican. The Chinese public generally respects each pope,” it said in an editorial in its Chinese and English-language editions.

“Beijing and the Vatican will establish diplomatic relations sooner or later... Pope Francis has a positive image with the Chinese public. It is expected he will push China-Vatican ties forward and solve related problems with his wisdom,” it said.

The moves have not been without controversy in the church.

“Our brothers in mainland China are not scared of losing all their fortunes, being thrown into jail or even bleeding. Their greatest pain is from being betrayed by their ‘family members,’” wrote Zen, who vowed to keep speaking out despite the Vatican’s rebukes.

He also said the pope had, during a meeting with him three years ago, agreed that the official Catholic community run by the Chinese Communist Party objectively represents a schism.

Another source of friction with China is the Vatican’s maintenance of official ties with Taiwan.

“The Taiwan question isn’t Beijing’s top concern in handling its relations with the Vatican as the mainland has many tools to pressure Taiwan,” it said.

The Vatican is Taiwan’s sole remaining European diplomatic ally.

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