On Wednesday Cardinal Angelo Sadano, the Vatican Secretary of State, revealed to AsiaNews that the main obstacle between Vatican and China is not Taiwan, rather it is a problem of respect for religious freedom.
“Everyone has a right to religious freedom, a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, enshrined in the history of the Chinese people itself, which loves freedom so much. Therefore, we hope the sun of freedom shall rise on this great country.” Said the Cardinal.
The remark came as a response to an ensuing dialogue between Vatican and China in an effort to allow four Chinese bishops to attend the Synod of Rome, an event that occurred throughout the month of October.
Since April, the Pontiff made it clear that he wishes to form a relationship between China and Vatican. The Vatican sent invitations to four bishops, Archbishop of Xian Anthony Li Duan, Bishop of Shanghai Aloysius Jin Luxian, Bishop of Fengxiang Like Li Jingfeng, who are recognized by the government, and Bishop of Qiqihar Joseph Wei Jingyi, to attend the Synod of Rome earlier this year. However, the Chinese government refused to permit the bishops to travel on the grounds that the invitations that was sent to bishops in both China and Taiwan.
Ye Xiaown, the director of Religious Affairs said that the Chinese government wants Vatican to recognize Taiwan as a part of China. The demand has been the primary concern in the dialogues of the two parties for years.
The Cardinal insisted that the presence of the diplomatic envoy from Holy See in Taiwan “is not an obstacle”
“I have said many times that if we had contacts with Beijing, our chargé d'affaires who is in Taiwan would go to Beijing, not tomorrow morning, but tonight,"
Toward the absence of the four Chinese bishops at the synod, Cardinal Sodano expressed regret but restrained from showing the Vatican’s disappointment on the matter. Yet he is still hold out hopes for the bishops to meet the Pope.
“Bishops of all the world gathered at the synod were sorry not to see their fellow brothers from China, these four fellow brothers whom the Pope invited,” he said. “Still we hope that soon, as they said in their letter to the Pope, they might take the road to Rome and give us a brotherly embrace. History moves and I believe that soon these difficulties will be surmounted.”
When asked about the overall situation, the Cardinal hoped that the momentary tensions will cease.
The relationship between Vatican and China has been severed since 1951 when the Communist Party took control of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches. Any churches and congregations that did not follow the government-sanctioned guidelines were labeled unofficial and faced persecution.