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The Holy See's relations with China
After it became known that China would host the Olympic Games in 2008, the Holy See started to show interest to switch recognition from Taipei to Beijing:
"I have said many times that if we had contacts with Beijing, our Chargé d' Affairs who is now in Taiwan, would go to Beijing not tomorrow but tonight" (Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican City, October 2005.
"By now everybody knows that the Holy See is ready to switch its diplomatic mission from Taipei to Beijing" (Cardinal Zen, Bishop of Hong Kong, 19 March 2006).
"What is important is that there should first be religious freedom, then diplomatic relations"; Cardinal Zen in South China Morning Post, 24 March 2006)
"The Vatican has said it is ready to scrap ties with Taiwan in favor of Beijing IF the mainland could guarantee religious freedom and would give the Pope free rein in naming its bishops (Cardinal Zen, in South China Morning Post, 14 May 2008).
However, until now (March 2015) no progress in Holy See-China relations has taken place because – as can be deduced from above mentioned statements – the Holy See has made switching recognition from Taipei to Beijing hostage to a definition of religious freedom which the Church has not always required with other countries.
For example, during World War II it continued diplomatic relations (i.e. recognised their Governments) with Nazi Germany of Adolf Hitler and with the likewise criminal Government of Vichy in France, and recently, with the communist Government of Vietnam where, constitutionally, religious freedom is under state control.
And would Msgr. Riberi not have stayed on in Communist China had he not been expelled?
Therefore, although Catholics in China can freely worship the Catholic faith as the sacraments are administered by validly ordained priests loyal to the Pope, the Holy See still cannot start discussing the Pope's right to appoint its Bishops, notwithstanding the Government in Beijing hinted that "There can be some flexibility on how Catholic bishops are appointed, provided the Holy See cuts its ties with Taiwan first and recognise Beijing".
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 28 No 3 (April 2015), p. 11
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