Sunday, January 21, 2007

Vatican Seeks China Connection

Sources: Gulf News, CNN

Pope Benedict XVI has promised to pursue formal ties between the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China—where the Communist party has at times arrested and jailed Catholics for claiming “their loyalty to the pontiff.” This announcement occurred after two days of extended talks between the Holy See and the Chinese delegation. This would lead to the “normalization of relations on various levels, with the aim of allowing the peaceful and fruitful life of faith of the church and of working together for the good of the Chinese people and peace in the world.”

China has established two ground rules for the establishment of ties. The first is that the Vatican must cut its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, and recognize China as the only legitimate government that represents both China and that Taiwan is “an inalienable part of China.” The second rule is that the See cannot “intervene in the internal affairs of China, including in the name of ‘religious affairs.’” China does not recognize papal authority, and has ordained bishops without Church approval—much to the consternation of the Vatican.

The first principle of de-recognizing Taiwan is a step that the Vatican has been willing to take in order to establish diplomatic relations. However, the second rule may be put to the test as the Vatican has refused to relinquish bishop-appointing power to the Chinese government. China views papal appointments as an “intervention” in internal affairs. Parishioners loyal to the pope have been subject to harassment and persecution—including jailing.

Thought Questions
1) If the irresistible force (i.e. Chinese rule two--no intervention, and the Chinese view papal appointments as intervention) meets the immovable object (i.e. Vatican refuses to allow China to appoint bishops)--how can the two states compromise and establish ties?

2) How best can Taiwan react to the prospect of losing a diplomatic ally in the Vatican?

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