After the Chinese government discontinued and banned any form of interaction with the Holy See since 1951 for supporting Taiwan, great progress of reconciliation was shown between the Vatican and Chinese authority under the reign of John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI stressed conciliation on a Wednesday mass at the Vatican, which is a hope for the continuation of dialogue between China and the Vaticans.
The late pontiff, Pope John Paul II, had a dream to visit China, which is the most important place he didn’t visit, a wound that has failed to heal, and its 12 million faithful, who are divided almost among a “patriotic” church, created after Chairman Mao’s revolution, and its underground Roman Catholic rival. Yet, even though he was close, he did not succeed even after he died.
Two major issues are doctrinal and diplomatic. One is the pope’s insistence for ultimate authority over the Catholic Church in China, a rite that is considered as a dogma and troubling to Chinese authorities who pride themselves on “liberating Middle Kingdom from foreign imperialists,” according to AP. The other stumbling block to Beijing is the recognition of Taipei, which has further escalated when Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian attended John Paul’s funeral two weeks ago despite Beijing’s accusation that he had an ulterior motive.
However, the Chinese official commented on the pope’s death mixing praises for his accomplishments and expressions of hope for renewed dialogue.
China’s expert on Holy See, Ren Yanli of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said, “It took us years of negotiations before we finally entered the World Trade Organization [and] a long time until we won our big to host the Olympic Games, so why would we not succeed in having diplomatic relations with the Vatican? It just takes time.”
Progress has been shown through the most important compromise over the appointment of Chinese bishops. In the early 1990s, the official Chinese church simply appointed them unilaterally to create a structure outside papal supervision. But now, official candidates are given time to quietly seek papal approval via intermediaries in Hong Kong. Ren,
According to Newsweek, the CASS scholar, Ren, confirmed the practice for the first time. He stated that out of 71 bishops altogether, only 9 are not recognized by the pope.
Since Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has been selected as Pope, Beijing has wasted little time to issue statements of warning to the new pope, Benedict XVI, on Wednesday that the Vatican and China could establish formal relationship only if the Vatican dissolved its diplomatic ties with Taiwan and promised not to “interfere in China’s internal affairs.”