Anti-organ trafficking ties needed

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/17 10:48:39

Pope Francis encourages better China-Vatican cooperation on campaign

Pope Francis discusses China's reform on organ transplants and efforts to fight organ trafficking on October 8 at the Vatican with Francis Delmonico (right), chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) Task Force of Donation and Transplantation of Organs and Tissues, and Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo (2nd from right), chancellor of Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Photo: Courtesy of Francis Delmonico

Pope Francis kisses a toddler on the forehead as he arrives on the popemobile for his weekly general audience on Wednesday, at St. Peter's square in the Vatican. Photo: AFP

Pope Francis encouraged the Vatican to continue cooperating with China in the fight against organ trafficking, an effort both sides regard as crucial to safeguarding human dignity and human rights. 

Analysts said on Wednesday that China and the Vatican enjoy frequent cultural and scientific exchanges and it helps the two sides to gain a better understanding of each other.

"Pope Francis was keen to know about the reform in China and the support of the global community for the reform, and the Pope understands that much remains to be done," Francis Delmonico, chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) Task Force of Donation and Transplantation of Organs and Tissues, told the Global Times. 

Delmonico, who is also an academician and member of the council of Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), met with the Pope on October 8 after attending The Third China International Organ Donation Conference in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province in late September. 

"The Pope was encouraging PAS to continue working with the WHO Task Force and leaders of The Transplantation Society to combat organ trafficking as a form of human slavery that is a crime against humanity," Delmonico told the Global Times on Monday.  

In 2015, reforms were introduced in China prohibiting the use of organs from executed prisoners and prohibiting foreign patients from undergoing organ transplants in the country.

The reform has won recognition from the international community, which hailed the "China Model" and expects it to be introduced to other countries and regions.

The China Model features strong government engagement together with administrative and legislative efforts to help facilitate the reform.

"If other countries along the routes of the [China-proposed] Belt and Road initiative follow China's model, it would be a very important part of efforts to fight organ trafficking and protect human dignity," Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, also PAS chancellor, told the Global Times earlier.  

As of September 16, over 19,500 Chinese have voluntarily donated their organs and more than 629,000 Chinese have registered as voluntary donors, according to the China Organ Donation Administrative Center's website. 

Efforts are not only about safeguarding people's right to health, but also about safeguarding human dignity and human rights in China, Huang Jiefu, a former Chinese vice-minister of health and head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee, told the Global Times.  

Huang stressed that as the system and reform remain imperfect, stronger government support, including more funding and resources to train qualified doctors, is needed to allow more patients to afford the surgery and receive it as soon as possible.

Positive signs

Though China and the Vatican have no diplomatic relations, the two sides enjoy frequent cultural and scientific exchanges, which help them gain a better understanding of each other, Yan Kejia, director of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Religious Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Delegates from PAS have attended two conferences on international efforts to fight organ trafficking in China in August and September 2018. Chinese delegations have also attended similar events held in the Vatican in 2017 and 2018.

The latest sign of improved relations between China and the Vatican, since a landmark agreement on the appointment of bishops was signed on September 22, involves two Chinese bishops who participated in a Vatican gathering where they invited Pope Francis to visit China.

"While we were here, we invited Pope Francis to come to China," Bishop Guo Jincai said in an interview published by the Milan-based newspaper Avvenire on Tuesday. Guo said he does not know if it would take place but said he believes it was possible, Reuters reported Tuesday.

The invitation shows China's sincerity and goodwill, while the Pope's visit to China would be difficult unless diplomatic relations are established, which goes beyond religious concerns, Yan said.

Though there's no timetable, the positive signs and interactions from both sides are building a sound momentum for an adjustment in their current relations, Yan noted.


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