Vatican Official Optimistic About Relations With China

Archbishop Lajolo Upbeat After Asian Trip

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 23, 2005 ( A Vatican official says “there are no insurmountable difficulties” for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, gave that assessment when speaking today on Vatican Radio.

He had returned from a June 11-22 trip to Southeast Asia, which took him to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

The prelate, who is in charge of the Vatican’s foreign affairs, explained that the request the Holy See makes to Asian countries in general, “in the measure possible,” is “freedom.”

The Church asks for the chance “to offer its services to those in greatest need and to be accepted as a sincere and friendly companion in the pilgrimage toward a world more worthy of man, created in the image of God,” he said.

In regard to prospects for reciprocal recognition between the Holy See and China, Archbishop Lajolo explained that “when there is talk of recognition of a country, above all, one must distinguish between the reality itself of the country and of its government and the establishment of diplomatic relations.”

With prudence

“It is obvious that the Holy See recognizes the Chinese state, though it does not have diplomatic relations with it,” he said. “How could one not recognize a state of 1.3 billion inhabitants, such as China, with its great tradition of culture, art, poetry, thought, etc.?

“The establishment of diplomatic relations with China is an issue that has been under examination for a long time. From my point of view, there are no insurmountable difficulties. However, it is necessary to proceed with prudence to verify some assumptions which neither side can give up.”

The archbishop said he is sure that “with good will and a spirit of friendship, which both sides seek, a good outcome can be attained.”

Beijing cut relations with the Holy See in 1951, expelling its apostolic nuncio.

China places two conditions before resuming relations: that the Pope not interfere in the religious situation of the country — among other things, that he not appoint the bishops — and that he sever relations with Taiwan.

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