Car­di­nal sees ‘very hope­ful’ China-Vatican ties

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Li Ruo­han in As­tana, Kaza­khstan

The land­mark deal on the ap­point­ment of bish­ops signed in Septem­ber be­tween China and the Vatican has gen­er­ated good­will from both sides, and re­la­tions be­tween the two sides look hope­ful, said a car­di­nal from the Vatican on Wed­nes­day.

“Re­la­tions be­tween China and the Vatican at this mo­ment are very hope­ful. In past years, re­la­tions grew in many ways, in­clud­ing in cul­ture and sci­ence,” said Car­di­nal Francesco Coc­co­palme­rio, pres­i­dent of the Vatican’s Pon­tif­i­cal Coun­cil for Leg­isla­tive Texts.

“Those lit­tle steps are very use­ful to know each other

and to show that we [the Catholic Church] are not dan­ger­ous and can be friends,” Coc­co­palme­rio told the Global Times on Wed­nes­day.

The most chal­leng­ing is­sue for the two sides is the nom­i­na­tion of bish­ops, and China and the Vatican must have found a so­lu­tion or the agree­ment would not have been signed, the 80-yearold car­di­nal said.

China and the Vatican signed a pro­vi­sional agree­ment on Septem­ber 22 over the ap­point­ment of bish­ops af­ter decades of ne­go­ti­a­tions. Though the de­tails of the agree­ment were not made pub­lic, the agree­ment was hailed by re­li­gious an­a­lysts as a sig­nif­i­cant move for both sides to un­der­stand and get closer to each other.

Signs of good­will

The agree­ment gen­er­ated good­will from the two sides dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions, said Coc­co­palme­rio. The good­will from the Pope is un­der­stand­ing that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has its in­ter­ests over the is­sue, the car­di­nal said.

The Pope un­der­stands that the dio­cese in China is not only a re­li­gious group, but also a group with peo­ple from civil so­ci­ety. They are re­li­gious and civil­ian peo­ple, Coc­co­palme­rio said.

Echo­ing Coc­co­palme­rio, Bishop Vladimír Fekete, the Apos­tolic Pre­fect of Azer­bai­jan, told the Global Times on Thurs­day that the agree­ment is im­por­tant as it car­ries the hope that Catholics in China will be more united.

Fekete hailed the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two sides, say­ing the bish­ops in China will be “good Chi­nese cit­i­zen and good Catholics.”

In his first pub­lic com­ments on the pro­vi­sional deal, Pope Fran­cis told re­porters on Septem­ber 25 that while he re­al­izes not everyone will un­der­stand the logic be­hind the agree­ment, he was con­fi­dent in the “great faith” of Chi­nese Catholics, Reuters re­ported.

“I, too, am con­vinced that an en­counter can be au­then­tic and fruit­ful only if it oc­curs through di­a­logue, which in­volves com­ing to know one an­other, to re­spect one an­other and to ‘walk to­gether’ for the sake of build­ing a com­mon fu­ture of sublime har­mony,” the Pope said in a state­ment re­leased by the Vatican on Septem­ber 26.

The skep­tics and crit­ics, in­clud­ing those from China’s “un­der­ground churches,” will un­der­stand and ac­cept the deal in the fu­ture, Coc­co­palme­rio said.

Coc­co­palme­rio is head­ing a del­e­ga­tion from the Holy See to As­tana, cap­i­tal of Kaza­khstan, for the Sixth Congress of Lead­ers of World and Tra­di­tional Re­li­gions.

The two-day event, run­ning from Wed­nes­day to Thurs­day, brings to­gether 82 del­e­ga­tions from 46 coun­tries and re­gions, with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Tao­ism, Bud­dhism, Is­lam, Chris­tian­ity, Ju­daism, Hin­duism and mem­bers of re­li­gious and civic or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“China has the largest pop­u­la­tion in the world, and it’s im­por­tant that the na­tion has greater in­ter­ac­tion with the international so­ci­ety,” Arch­bishop To­mash Peta from As­tana told the Global Times on Thurs­day on the side­lines of the congress.

“There will be more good news on co­op­er­a­tion, and I wish the Holy Father would visit China,” said Peta, Arch­bishop Metropoli­tan of the Arch­dio­cese of Saint Mary in As­tana.

The theme of the congress, which starts on Wed­nes­day, is “Re­li­gious Lead­ers for a Se­cure World.”

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