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Pope praises China amid ongoing talks, brushes aside criticisms

 

Pope Francis has denied Dec 2014 media reports that he had turned down an offer for an audience from Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. (Photo courtesy: AFP)
Pope Francis (Photo courtesy: AFP)

(TibetanReview.net, Jun22, 2018) – The Vatican and China are in advanced talks to resolve a long-standing dispute over the appointment of bishops in China, one of the biggest obstacles to resuming diplomatic ties that were cut almost 70 years ago, reported Reuters Jun 20. The talks are strongly opposed by top priests in Hong Kong led by 86-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen.

The report said Pope Francis had voiced optimism for improved ties between the Vatican and China, rejecting criticism that the Holy See may be selling out Catholics to Beijing’s communist government.

“We are at a good point,” the pope has said in an interview at his Vatican residence.

He has not said anything on the details under discussion while insisting that dialogue was the best way forward.

“Dialogue is a risk, but I prefer risk rather than the certain defeat that comes with not holding dialogue,” he has said.

China’s estimated 12 million Catholics are split between an underground Church that swears loyalty to the Vatican and whose members are persecuted by the communist party-state and the state-supervised Catholic Patriotic Association.

“I think the Chinese people merit the Nobel Prize for patience. They know how to wait. Time is theirs and they have centuries of culture. They are a wise people, very wise. I have great respect for China,” the pope was quoted as saying.

But Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former bishop of Hong Kong, has said the direction of negotiations suggests the Vatican was preparing to sell out the underground church.

The report cited priests in Hong Kong, a beachhead for Vatican loyalists in southern China, as saying the talks could be a trap leading to greater persecution of underground believers and ultimately to tighter Communist Party control of their religion.

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