China’s persecution of Catholics has escalated, despite overtures from the Holy See, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday after a top Vatican official confirmed that the two sides are talking about the Roman Curia opening a representative office in Beijing, among other issues.
The Vatican is expected to open a dialogue with China on establishing a representative office and the fate of its loyalist “underground bishops” after the two sides in 2020 agreed to extend a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops inked two years earlier.
Speaking in an interview with the Catholic publication America dated Tuesday, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, said that bilateral talks are being conducted to resolve the issues.
“There has been discussion on things like that,” he was quoted as saying. “Discussions, yes, but no conclusions yet.”
Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said the Vatican has been requesting China’s permission for a representative office to be established since Cardinal Angelo Sodano first proposed it in 1999.
The Vatican had raised the issue out of concern for the welfare of millions of Chinese Catholics, which led to the provisional agreement being inked in 2018, she said.
As the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression of Catholics and other religious groups has intensified, it shows that the agreement did not bring about an improvement in religious freedoms in China, she said.
That Beijing had made solemn promises to the Vatican did not escape the ministry’s notice, she said, adding that the ministry is closely monitoring the state of religious freedom in China.
Regarding the Sino-Vatican provisional agreement, Taiwan’s consistent stance and hope is for it to improve religious freedom in China, she said, adding that Taipei would continue to deepen its ties with the Vatican.
Taiwan’s national interests include protecting the rights of Taiwanese Catholics as the ministry seeks to develop a long-lasting friendship with the Vatican that is based on common values, she said.
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