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China Congratulates New Pope

China congratulated Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany on his election as the 265th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Wednesday.

Qin said China is ready to improve relations with the Vatican on the condition that the Vatican terminate its so-called diplomatic relations with Taiwan, recognize the government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing all of China, and acknowledge Taiwan as an inalienable part of Chinese territory.


The Vatican must also refrain from interfering in China's internal affairs, including any intervention under the pretext of religious affairs.


"We hope that under the leadership of the new pope, the Vatican can create favorable conditions for the improvement of China-Vatican relations," the spokesman said.


The Catholic Patriotic Association of China and the Chinese Catholic Bishops College also sent congratulatory messages on behalf of more than 5 million Chinese Catholics and told people attending churches across China to pray for the new pope.


"Give thanks to the almighty God for choosing you as the representative of Christ on earth, the heir of Saint Peter," said the message. "With joy and happiness in the risen Christ, we offer to you our hearty congratulations in Christ."


The message added, "It is our earnest hope that you will enhance Sino-Vatican relations for the sake of the salvational work of Jesus Christ."


Ratzinger, who was born on April 16, 1927, in the town of Marktl am Inn in southern Germany, took the name Pope Benedict XVI. He succeeds Pope John Paul II, who died on April 2 at the age of 84.


(Xinhua News Agency April 21, 2005)

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