Taiwan Diplomat Doubts Improved China-Vatican Relations Possible

VATICAN, Oct 25, 01 (CWNews.com) - Taiwan's ambassador to the Holy See has expressed doubts that the government of China will respond favorably to an appeal by Pope John Paul II for negotiations toward the establishment of formal diplomatic relations.

The Taiwanese ambassador, Raymond Tai, said that the Holy Father's October 24 overture to Beijing was "exceptional," but that the Chinese government would not respond in kind. The ambassador offered these opinions after having had lunch with Msgr. Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's under-secretary of state. The envoy met with the Vatican official on the day after the Pope's public appeal-- obviously hoping to clarify the diplomatic situation.

Ambassador Tai reported that he had been assured that the Holy See is not expecting any immediate response from Beijing. The Taiwanese diplomat noted that the Chinese government has rebuffed every effort to establish diplomatic ties with Rome, and "the conditions are always the same." Beijing has always demanded that the Communist Party, rather than the Vatican, should approve Catholic bishops. Also, the Chinese government has insisted that the Holy See must break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

In fact, the Holy See does not have a diplomatic mission to Taiwan itself. The Vatican embassy in China was originally stationed in Beijing, but moved first to Nanking, then Hong Kong, and finally to Taiwan in order to avoid the onslaught of the Communist regime. The Vatican's nuncio in Taiwan remains, for official purposes, the Pope's legate to all of China.

Ambassador Tai told the Roman news agency I Media that in his view, the canonization of 120 Chinese martyrs last October was a bitter pill for the Chinese Communist leadership, and had the effect of erecting a "higher barrier" to diplomatic accords. Although the Vatican insisted at the time that there was "no political or diplomatic consideration" involved in the canonizations-- that the ceremony had been timed to match the celebration of missionary work during the Jubilee year-- the Communist leaders were furious to note that the canonizations took place on the anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic in China.

Beijing had opposed the canonizations, saying that the missionaries represented an "imperialistic" influence on China. The Communist government has been engaged in a long tug-of-war for the affections of Chinese Catholics, insisting that "patriotic" Catholics must sever their connections with the "foreign" influence of the Holy See.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to the Pope's appeal on Thursday, saying it would study the request, but that it would not bend on demands that the Holy See sever relations with Taiwan and not interfere with China's internal affairs, a reference to control over and communication with the Chinese Catholic Church.

Catholic World News Service - Daily News Briefs
25. oktober 2001

av Webmaster publisert 27.10.2001, sist endret 27.10.2001 - 11:25