Pope’s China comments sound kind note

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-2-4 0:58:01

During an interview with the Asia Times on January 28, Pope Francis noted that China is "a great country. But more than a country, a great culture, with an inexhaustible wisdom." That the Pope sent greetings to China for its upcoming New Year is a glad event for China's Catholics as well as for common Chinese. The world's media has noticed that the Pope has sent more messages of kindness to China recently. This makes people wonder about the future trajectory of China-Vatican ties.

The Vatican still retains "diplomatic" ties with Taiwan. But analysts believe their relationship is not an obstacle to the normalization of China-Vatican ties.

The biggest disagreement between China and the Vatican is the authority to appoint bishops in churches across China. Catholics in China stick to the three-self principles of self-governance, self-support and self-propagation, and China appoints its own bishops, but the Vatican asserts that this is its right.

Catholicism in China has formed its own system. It is unrealistic to change this situation. The Vatican has not approved the Chinese principles and has even excommunicated some bishops, which intensified China-Vatican tensions.

Since ascending to the papacy, Pope Francis has shown a positive attitude toward improving bilateral ties. But it won't be easy to achieve a breakthrough on the core issue.

China attaches high importance to the actual independence of religious institutions from those outside China. Beijing is not expected to compromise in this respect.

This is not the first time that Catholics have met with demands for independence. Historically, the independence and schism of Protestantism dealt a heavy blow to the Church. This reshaped the entire landscape of Christianity across the world. Currently, the Pope exerts little influence on churches except for orthodoxy. The autonomy of churches in each country is much more than in the Middle Ages.

We believe that Beijing and the Vatican will find solutions, at least making bilateral relations gradually ease.

The Chinese authorities and the Pope have remained silent over how they communicate.

But as both sides, especially the Vatican side, have the will and pragmatism to solve the problem, the atmosphere will improve. That China can deal well with Catholic affairs suits the interests of believers.

Pope Francis's latest comments about China are a positive trend. Chinese people welcome such kindness. But objectively speaking, to advance bilateral ties, it will carry more significance if Vatican can accept the independent principles of Chinese Catholics.

Posted in: Editorial

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