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Vatican-China Relations Still Same, HK Bishop Says

The main arguments lie on the freedom to appoint bishops and the relationship between the Vatican and Taiwan. However, he also said, it is not totally hopeless for China to establish relations with Va
( [email protected] ) Jun 18, 2005 01:28 AM EDT

On June 14, Roman Catholic Hong Kong District bishop Joseph Zen stated at a luncheon that it is still difficult for China and the Vatican to establish relationship. The main arguments lie on the freedom to appoint bishops and the relationship between the Vatican and Taiwan. However, he also said, it is not totally hopeless for China to establish relations with Vatican, and he is still quite optimistic about this.

Within these two months after Pope Benedict XVI was elected, interest groups from various sides gave much attention to potential changes on the relationship between China and Vatican. But during lunch time yesterday, Bishop Zen stated to the reporter that he is not sure if there are any changes or breakthroughs even as of now.

“Vatican have exerted much effort in trying to establish connections with China, but Beijing has not shown much interest in this aspect." said Bishop Zen.

To illustrate the pope's concern on the desire of dialogue on the topic of China-Vatican relationship, the word “worrisome" provides a picture. Currently, the Vatican has shown its willingness to change its foreign policies by allowing the Beijing government to have a say in choosing the Bishops, but the Vatican would have a difficult time explaining to the believers in Taiwan, “To persuade the non-Catholics to accept China-Vatican relations is also very difficult, the only thing that we can do is to keep explaining the Vatican's method and to make friends more powerfully.”

He said, "Once the relationship is established, the Vatican would provide the same treatment towards the Three-self Patriotic Movement Catholics and the underground Catholics.

“Once China and Vatican connects, all the Chinese Catholics will become our brothers and sisters.”

Nevertheless, there are still much differences present, so much research and further investigation on religious freedom is necessary, said Bishop Zen.

Bishop Zen believes that for China-Vatican relationship to become a reality, Beijing would need to realize that the Vatican's policy is only for the good of the believers, and there are no other motives. Because Hong Kong district does not have any government officials, the things that Hong Kong can do is very limited. He still hopes that the China-Vatican relations can be established, which will most likely cause the Chinese government to loosen its grip on the China Catholic churches.