A Critical Moment for Beijing-Vatican Dialogue

Interview with Vatican Official and Missionary Father Giancarlo Politi

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ROME, OCT. 30, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Beijing has responded tentatively to Vatican proposals to begin to dialogue, following John Paul II´s recent message to the conference on Jesuit missionary Father Matteo Ricci, first great apostle to China.

Father Giancarlo Politi, a PIME missionary in China for many years, and recently appointed to the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, explained the situation over Vatican Radio.

“Surely the moment in which the message was sent is especially difficult for Chinese leaders, [who are] committed to the struggle against terrorism taking place at their doorstep, and to the preparation of the Party Congress next spring, which includes the renewal of offices,” the missionary explained.

“The message is addressed to political leaders, where the real decision-making power of the People´s Republic of China resides,” he said. “Perhaps it will be necessary to find concrete ways to dialogue with different organizations, which the Chinese state has designated for the public management of the Catholic Church.

“This means that further steps will have to be taken, but not at such high levels as on this occasion.”

According to Father Politi, the papal petition for forgiveness presented to the Chinese people does not necessarily refer to a particular event. What is important is “the atmosphere that was created in time, an atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion,” the priest said.

The Pope seems to be saying “Courage! Let´s surmount it and begin again with mutual acceptance,” Father Politi explained.

The missionary is optimistic about the possibility of re-establishing diplomatic relations between Beijing and Rome.

“I think it will be possible if there is political will,” he said. “Probably, what will have to be kept in mind is the need for longer terms, in part because it is necessary to wait for the new Chinese leaders to settle in this next year, as they are now involved in the preparation of the Party Congress.”

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