DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     March 18, 1999     vol. 10, no. 54

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) – Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who is visiting Italy this week, has been asked by the Italian government to take "a step forward" in his country’s relations with the Holy See, according to an Italian newspaper story.

          The daily La Stampa has reported that the Chinese ambassador to Italy has already received a request from the Italian government, suggesting that Beijing should move closer to diplomatic relations with the Vatican. Jiang Zemin will hear that same request during his 5-day trip to Italy, the paper reports.

          The Italian government’s intervention, La Stampa says, is the result of the February 11 meeting between the country’s new president, Massimo d’Alema, and the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. During that meeting, the two reportedly discussed the upcoming visit of Jiang Zemin, and the possibility of ties between Beijing and the Vatican. President d’Alema also assured Cardinal Sodano that he would bring up the sensitive topic of human rights in China.

          The Holy See does not currently have any diplomatic relationship with the Beijing government. Theoretically, the papal nuncio stationed in Taiwan is the Pope’s representative to all of China. The Vatican envoy has been stationed in Taiwan since Catholics were expelled from China in 1951. Recently the Vatican has indicated a willingness to move the nuncio to Beijing, if the Communist government accepts such a move.

          Pope John Paul II is understood to prefer "direct conversations" with Beijing, with a view to eventually establishing full diplomatic relations. However, the Pontiff has also indicated that diplomatic relations cannot be established until China recognizes the religious liberty of its people, and particularly of the loyal Roman Catholics there.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

March 18, 1999       volume 10, no. 54


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