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WASHINGTON – Cold relations between Beijing and the Vatican don’t appear to be changing under Pope Francis as Beijing already has warned the pontiff not to interfere in China’s domestic affairs, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Those relations were very distant during the entire tenure of Pope Benedict XVI. Even now, the bishop from Shanghai remains under house arrest for defying Communist Party control over the Catholic Church. In addition, the church continues to undergo repression in China.
The government had promoted the Rev. Thaddeus Ma Daqin from priest to be the bishop of Shanghai, but at his consecration, he publicly refused to be subservient to the Chinese government. He initially was put in jail in July 2012 but later was placed under house arrest at a seminary outside Shanghai.
Diplomatic relations between China and the church haven’t existed since 1951 when the Holy See backed Taiwan.
Beijing blasted Taiwan when Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou attended Pope Francis’ installment following his selection by the College of Cardinals. Curiously, Beijing issued a congratulatory statement but also warned against church interference in China’s internal affairs.
Sources say that the Vatican has offered to transfer formal recognition from Taipei to Beijing if the Chinese government would allow the Catholic Church have freedom of worship and to stop interfering in the church’s operation in the country.
That isn’t going to happen and, for that reason, Pope Francis isn’t expected to give Beijing a major priority. At the same time, he isn’t expected to increase criticism of China’s leaders.
“The new pope is understandably concerned about the plight of Catholics in China, but right now has little leverage to persuade the Chinese government to change its hard line approach,” according to a report in the open-source Langley Intelligence Group Network, or Lignet.
“Reform of this magnitude will require a steady dialogue with Beijing and real compromise that might require the Vatican to end its support for Taiwan,” he said.
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