Monday, January 21, 2013

Vatican unlikely to establish diplomatic ties with China: ex-envoy

A former Taiwan ambassador to the Holy See said Wednesday that it would be difficult for the Vatican to hold dialogue with China, let alone establish diplomatic relations.

China would first have to relinquish its control over religion, Tu Chou-shen said, noting that China has never stepped back from its establishment a Catholic Church outside the authority of the Vatican.

Tu, who served as Taiwan ambassador to the Holy See 2004-2008, made the remarks at the launch of his book on the status of the Vatican in the world.

He noted that the late Pope Paul VI once tried to promote a "two China" policy, but the idea was not accepted by either side of the Taiwan Strait or most members of the international community. The Vatican has since stuck to a "one China" policy, Tu said.

He said the Vatican has never hidden its wish to improve relations with China.

Tu said he told the Holy See several times during his term that Taiwan would be happy to see improved relations between the Vatican China, but the Vatican should ensure that the Chinese people have religious freedom.

Asked if the Vatican is likely to recognize both sides of the Taiwan Strait, Tu said the Vatican's view is that conditions are not right.

Tu said he was told by a senior Holy See official that establishing diplomatic relations with China will require negotiations, and at present, the conditions for negotiations are not in place.

China's Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association was established in 1957 by the People's Republic of China's Religious Affairs Bureau to exercise state supervision over mainland China's Catholics.

Pope Benedict XVI referred to the agents of the Association as "persons who are not ordained, and sometimes not even baptized," who "control and take decisions concerning important ecclesial questions, including the appointment of Bishops.”

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