China hopes for bet­ter Vat­i­can ties

Reli­gious af­fairs of­fi­cial says di­a­logue can lessen di­vi­sions, but cer­tain con­di­tions must be met

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By XU WEI xuwei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China is will­ing to con­duct con­struc­tive di­a­logue with the Vat­i­can and hopes that the Vat­i­can will take a more flex­i­ble and prag­matic at­ti­tude in such a di­a­logue, a top reli­gious af­fairs of­fi­cial said on Tues­day, as the coun­try’s Catholic church rep­re­sen­ta­tives gath­ered in Bei­jing for a na­tional assem­bly.

China’s stance on im­prov­ing ties with the Vat­i­can has al­ways been clear and con­sis­tent, and the coun­try is will­ing to hold talks “with the Vat­i­can based on rel­e­vant prin­ci­ples to nar­row dif­fer­ences and ex­pand com­mon ground”, Wang Zuoan, head of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion for Reli­gious Af­fairs, said at the open­ing of the Ninth Assem­bly of Chi­nese Catholic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

He did not de­fine the prin­ci­ples, but the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the For­eign Min­istry have re­it­er­ated that the Vat­i­can has to cut “diplo­matic re­la­tions” with Tai­wan and ad­mit that the is­land is part of China. In ad­di­tion, the Vat­i­can should not in­ter­fere in China’s in­ter­nal af­fairs.

“We hope the Vat­i­can will take prac­ti­cal ac­tions to cre­ate fa­vor­able con­di­tions for the im­prove­ment in ties,” he said.

Wang made the re­marks in the wake of a state­ment from the press of­fice of the Holy See that calls for “pos­i­tive sig­nals” from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

For­eign me­dia have re­ported re­cently that af­ter sev­eral rounds of talks, Vat­i­can del­e­gates and Chi­nese of­fi­cials have worked out a draft agree­ment on how to select and ap­point new bish­ops in China.

For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said in a daily news brief­ing on Mon­day that China has al­ways shown good faith in pro­mot­ing the im­prove­ment of bi­lat­eral ties with the Vat­i­can, and is will­ing to con­tinue to work with the Vat­i­can to­ward progress in the con­struc­tive di­a­logue.

In a sign of im­proved ties, China or­dained four new bish- ops in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, and all of whom have gained pa­pal ap­proval.

The three-day assem­bly of Chi­nese Catholic rep­re­sen­ta­tives started on Tues­day as 365 rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in­clud­ing bish­ops, priests and lay Catholics, from across the coun­try con­vened to select a new lead­er­ship for the Chi­nese Catholic Pa­tri­otic As­so­ci­a­tion and the Bishop’s Con­fer­ence of the Catholic Church in China.

Wang said at the meet­ing that China’s Catholic Church should han­dle its own is­sues in­de­pen­dently and free of for­eign con­trol.

We hope the Vat­i­can will take prac­ti­cal ac­tions to cre­ate fa­vor­able con­di­tions for the im­prove­ment in ties.” Wang Zuoan, head of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion for Reli­gious Af­fairs

“Stick­ing to the prin­ci­ple of in­de­pen­dence, au­ton­omy and self-di­rec­tion would fit into the na­tional in­ter­est as well as the re­al­ity of the Catholic Church in China,” he said.

Ma Yinglin, pres­i­dent of the Bishop’s Con­fer­ence of the Catholic Church in China, said on Tues­day that the Catholic Church in China plans to set up a char­ity to ex­pand its so­cial ser­vices in the next five years.

The church also plans to in­crease its over­seas ex­changes with churches and in­vite over­seas the­olo­gians to teach in its sem­i­nar­ies, he said.

There are 65 bish­ops, about 3,100 priests and 5,800 nuns in the Catholic Church in China, and the coun­try has more than 6 mil­lion Catholic fol­low­ers, ac­cord­ing to the Chi­nese Catholic Pa­tri­otic As­so­ci­a­tion.

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