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Dump Taiwan and We Can Have Ties, China Tells New Pope

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=%5CForeignBureaus%5Carchive%5C200504%5CFOR20050420b.html Dump Taiwan and We Can Have Ties, China Tells New
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      Dump Taiwan and We Can Have Ties, China Tells New Pope
      By Patrick Goodenough
      CNSNews.com International Editor
      April 20, 2005

      Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - China on Wednesday
      urged newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI to break the
      Holy See's ties to Taiwan, recognize Beijing's claim
      to the island, and "not interfere in internal Chinese
      affairs."

      Pope John Paul II, who once wrote that the
      evangelization of Asia was "our common task for the
      third millennium," was never able to fulfill his dream
      of visiting China, and the new pope's dealings with
      the world's most populous country will be closely
      watched.

      Beijing in 1951 cut ties with the Vatican -- which
      maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan -- and
      refused to allow Pope John Paul II to visit.

      The Communist government established an approved
      "patriotic" Catholic organization which appoints its
      own bishops, and reacted angrily when the late pope in
      2000 canonized 120 Chinese martyrs, a move Beijing saw
      as an insult to its sovereignty.

      The "patriotic" Catholic denomination claims about
      four million members, but the Vatican estimates that
      there are up to 12 million Catholics in China, most of
      them loyal to the pope and worshiping in secret. They
      include about 46 bishops and 1,000 priests, some of
      whom are in jail, under house arrest, or otherwise
      prevented from exercising their ministry, according to
      human rights campaigners.

      The death of Pope John Paul II raised speculation that
      his successor, German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, may
      seek to restore relations with China.

      Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said
      Wednesday China was willing to improve ties with the
      Vatican. But he cited two preconditions which China
      has repeated frequently over a period of more than two
      decades.

      "One is that Joseph Ratzinger should break off the
      so-called diplomatic relationship with Taiwan and
      recognize that the government of the People's Republic
      of China is the only legitimate government which
      represents China and that Taiwan is an inseparable
      part of China," Qin said.

      "The second is that Ratzinger should not interfere in
      internal Chinese affairs, including in the name of
      religion."

      The reference to "interference" relates to Beijing's
      refusal to accept the appointment of religious leaders
      by an outside authority.

      Hong Kong's Catholic leader, Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun
      says that although the Holy See had never before taken
      unilateral action to sever diplomatic relations with
      any state, it was - reluctantly - ready to take such a
      step in Taiwan's case, in the interests of religious
      freedom in China.

      "The Holy See is facing a dilemma -- either keep the
      status quo and abandon the faithful in the mainland to
      their fate, or try to help them to achieve a state of
      normal religious practice and come to terms with the
      Beijing government," he said in a recent statement.

      Zen asserted that China knew this, and that the real
      problem for the Communist government was not Taiwan,
      but the notion that the Vatican wanted to interfere.

      He argued that seeing the pope's appointment of
      bishops as interference in a country's internal
      affairs was clearly the result of a misunderstanding.

      "The appointment of bishops is the pastoral duty of
      the Holy Father. It is, by nature, a purely religious
      matter. All big nations accept this. Nobody regards
      this as a breach of either national dignity or
      sovereignty."

      Zen is the only Roman Catholic bishop in China openly
      able to operate under the authority of the pope, a
      situation owing to Hong Kong's unique political status.
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