China used surprisingly “mild tones” in reaction to a statement made a few days ago by the Vatican Press Office, said a Vatican official who chose to remain anonymous.
The latter was
referring to comments made by Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese
The statement in question by Vatican Press Office director
Greg Burke concerns the position of the Holy See regarding the episcopal
ordinations in Chengdu and Xichang where Mgr She Shiyin, the unlawful
and excommunicated bishop of Leshan, intervened thanks to police force.
The statement also dealt with the Assembly of Chinese
Catholic Representatives, set in Beijing for 26-30 December.
implicitly that the Assembly is incompatible with Catholic doctrine, but
the Vatican reserved the right to "make a judgment based on proven
Many bishops were coerced into participating in the last Assembly.
The Holy See was hoping to see some "positive signals" from the
government to “to place their trust in the dialogue between the civil
authorities and the Holy See and to hope for a future of unity and
harmony” without violations of religious freedom.
During the weekly press conference in Beijing, some journalists asked Hua Chunying what "positive signals" might "improve [the] relationship with the Vatican."
The response was very polite.
"The Chinese government upholds a
consistent and clear principle in handling relations with the Vatican,”
Ms Hua said.
“The Chinese side is always sincere about improving relations with
the Vatican, and has been working relentlessly to that end. We would
like to work with the Vatican toward the shared goal and push for new
progress in improving bilateral relations and promoting constructive
The Vatican source notes that perhaps this is the first time that an
indication from the Holy See on the Church in China is met without
"furious expressions of anger " and without reiterating the typical
stereotypes of the government's vision of the Church, centred on the
principles of episcopal "autonomy", "self-election" and
The issue of relations with Taiwan was also not mentioned.
"We hope that this is a sign of improvement," said the source.
Still, some Chinese clergymen note that the surprisingly mild tone of
Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman is perhaps an attempt by China not to
open a new front of tension in relations with other countries.