Vatican pavilion draws crowds at Beijing garden expo

By Li Ruohan and Huang Yiran Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/29 17:43:40

Culture a good ‘starting point’ for China, Vatican to exchange ideas: deputy envoy

The Vatican pavilion at the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 Beijing. Photo: Li Hao/GT

On the first day of an international garden expo in Beijing, the 200 square-meter Vatican pavilion was one of the most popular sites.  

Global Times reporters saw people crowded into the pavilion on Monday, the first day of the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 Beijing, to get a glimpse of the exhibition of the country that has around three-quarters of its territory covered by gardens and museums.

The Vatican prepared a special gift for the event, Tomasz Trafny, deputy commissioner of the Vatican pavilion, told the Global Times. 

A reproduction of the painting by late painter Peter Wenzel, representing the garden of Eden and 200 animals from all over the world, is on show in the pavilion. 

The painter forgot to color one bird and children are welcome to color the bird in a digital version of the painting, said Trafny. 

The best picture will be chosen and a winner will be presented with a prize, he said. 

Tomasz Trafny, deputy commissioner of the Vatican pavilion at the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 Beijing, receives an interview with the Global Times on Monday. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Inside the Vatican's pavilion, documents from the Vatican Apostolic Library regarding its research on plant specimens and the medicinal properties of herbs and plants are on display. 

"We have a desire to let people know that we are facing a very particular situation globally as environmental issues should be considered as a severe challenge," said Trafny, who is also head of the Science and Faith Department of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The environment in nature is a richness that belong to everyone and everyone should use it in such a way that other living beings, not just human beings, can use it so all creatures can benefit, Trafny said. 

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, commissioner of the Holy See Pavilion and president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Organizers told the Global Times that 110 countries, regions and international organizations have confirmed they will attend the 162-day expo, which is expected to receive 16 million visitors from home and abroad.

The Vatican is planning a scientific conference on the environment in China in September, and Chinese university researchers and scholars are welcome to share their studies and insights on environmental protection, Trafny said. 

Chinese bishops are welcomed to participate in the event, he said.  

"We hope that step by step, we will be able to enrich our possibility of relationship [with China] and maybe develop some common initiatives," Trafny said. 

"Every kind of commitment to develop deepest relationship between China and the Holy See is always very welcome, and we will do whatever we can to make this relationship work and make it a good expression of our goodwill," Trafny said. 

China and the Vatican have not established diplomatic ties. In September 2018, the two signed a landmark deal on the appointment of bishops, a thorny issue that caused decades of tensions between the two sides. 

Chinese observers noted that the deal cleared one of the major obstacles for a formal relationship while more efforts are needed to build trust and increase understanding of each other. 

"I think that everyone acknowledges that there must be some starting point. And culture is very good space for exchanging ideas," Trafny said.

Trafny noted that Vatican museums have already had established relationship with different Chinese institutions to promote cultural exchanges. "I think that's a natural way of letting people know each other and work together and develop a positive relationship."

In May, an exhibition of collections from the Vatican Museum will be held in the Palace Museum in Beijing, according to a statement released on the WeChat account of the Beijing municipal government on March 5. 

The exhibition will include some Chinese cultural relics stored in the Vatican Museum, and it will mark the first time these relics will be presented in their home country, said the statement. 

Newspaper headline: Vatican pavilion draws crowds at expo


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