The Vatican must sever "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan and
stop interfering in China's internal affairs if it wants to
normalize ties with Beijing, a leading Chinese Catholic leader said
The Vatican is the only government in Europe to recognize Taiwan
and wants Beijing to grant the Pope supreme authority to appoint
bishops on the mainland.
China sees the Vatican's stance as interference in the country's
internal affairs, Liu Bainian, vice-president of the Chinese
Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), said.
His remarks were in response to a report in the Italian daily,
La Repubblica, on Tuesday that quoted him as saying he "strongly
hopes to be able to see the Pope one day in Beijing to celebrate
Mass for us Chinese".
The report has been widely cited by international news agencies,
but Liu said it had ignored the preconditions he had set.
"What I meant was I hoped the Pope could visit China and
celebrate Mass but only after normalization of diplomatic ties,"
Liu told China Daily.
"If the two issues can be resolved properly, the two sides will
have favorable conditions to improve ties."
Liu's remarks came on the sidelines of a Catholic assembly in
Beijing yesterday that was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary
The Chinese Catholic society has vowed to adhere to independent
selection and ordination of bishops and management of its
"Without independence, the Chinese Catholic society would not
have been reborn," he said.
The Chinese Catholic society is independent from the Vatican
only in politics and economic policies. But in religious belief,
Chinese Catholicism is the same as Catholicism elsewhere in the
world, he said.
China today has about 5 million Catholics compared to 2.7
million in 1958, according to official figures.
More than 200 Catholic representatives, heads of other religions
and government officials attended yesterday's meeting.
Ji Jianhong, chairman of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement
Committee of the Protestant Churches of China, said: "Patriotism
and religious belief are consistent in the Bible. Independence in
religious operation has been a part of national sovereignty and the
core of patriotism and religious belief."
(China Daily July 26, 2007)