January 6, 2001
volume 12, no. 6
Italian President to Explore Papal Trip to China

    VATICAN, Jan. 5, 01 ( -- During a meeting with Chinese premier Zhu Rongii, Italian President Giuliano Amato will mention the hope of Pope John Paul II to visit China, according to Italian news reports.

    The Italian daily Il Messaggero has reported that when the Italian and Chinese leaders meet in Beijing on January 15, President Amato will place the Pope's wish to visit China on the agenda for their discussions. The topics already on the agenda include the two countries' efforts to control organized crime, collaborative work in the United Nations, and human-rights issues.

    Speaking to Italian reporters, Amato said that the Pope's ambition to travel to China is "very close to his heart." He mentioned the subject during a previous meeting with Zhu Rongii, when the Chinese leader visited Italy in July of last year.

    The story in Il Messaggero points out that relations between Beijing and the Holy See have been troubled in recent months. Last year, on January 6, the government-run Catholic Patriotic Association staged illicit episcopal ordinations, in a direct challenge to the Vatican. In October, the Communist government bitterly protested the ceremonies at which Pope John Paul canonized 120 Chinese martyrs. At the same time, sources in China indicate that ordinary Catholics-- in the officially recognized Church as well as the underground Church-- have drawn visibly closer to the Holy See despite the government's efforts.

    The Holy See has not had diplomatic representation in Beijing since 1951, when the Communist government expelled the papal nuncio. Although the Vatican has indicated an interest in restoring diplomatic ties, Beijing has countered by insisting that the Holy See must break off relations with Taiwan and promise not to "interfere" in the affairs of the Chinese Catholic Church-- conditions that the Vatican is not prepared to accept.

For other news stories, see

January 6, 2001
volume 12, no. 6
News from the Vatican

Return to Front Page of Current Issue