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Vatican Pledges To Pursue Diplomatic Relations With China January 20, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Catholic, World News.
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VATICAN CITY (AP)–The Vatican pledged Saturday to pursue dialogue with China aimed at establishing diplomatic ties, as Pope Benedict XVI prepares a message for his flock in China, where Catholics have been jailed for their loyalty to the pope.

A twofold strategy emerged from two days of high-level debate on China at the Vatican: continue to champion religious freedom in China while pursuing diplomatic ties.

Benedict, who called the meeting, did not attend the talks, but received a detailed briefing on proposals made during what the Vatican described as a frank debate.

Participants included Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the pope’s top aide, along with leading prelates from China. On hand was Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, an outspoken advocate for freedom of worship.

Benedict “benevolently has decided to write a letter to Catholics in China,” the Vatican said in a statement, without indicating when the letter might be sent.

Asia News, a Vatican-affiliated news agency, said it’s likely Benedict would “directly” take up specific questions on dealing with illicit ordinations in the state-sanctioned Catholic church, which does not accept the pope’s authority.

“The hope was expressed that a normalization of relations on various levels, with the aim of allowing the peaceful and fruitful life of the faith of the Church and of working together for the good of the Chinese people and peace in the world, would be achieved,” the statement said.

Vatican officials said that “on various levels” included diplomatic relations.

The Vatican has long indicated that it wants to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing, even at the cost of moving its embassy from Taiwan, but will not compromise on the tradition dictating that only the pope – and not a local church – can appoint bishops.

The Vatican has vigorously denounced Beijing’s insistence on ordaining bishops without papal approval. Last month, Benedict expressed “great sorrow” over the latest such ordination, the third known case in 2006.

Cardinal Zen has accused Beijing of reneging on a promise to stop the practice. China views papal appointments as interference in its internal affairs.

Among the prelates participating in the Vatican strategy session on China were bishops from Taiwan and Macau, a former Portuguese enclave.

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