FrankenPope talks to Reuters about the ‘dialogue with [Red] China’

FrankenPope talks to Reuters about the ‘dialogue with [Red] China’

[“Social media comments brand  Francis as a ‘politician’, as a ‘tool of soft power’ against the United States, whose moves destroy the Church and the mission in China” (see complete text of this in comment below) ]

Pope Francis is hopeful about relations with China, which are not just based on diplomatic talks but also on cultural exchanges and friendship. For him, Card Zen is “a little scared”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews – 6/20/18) – Pope Francis was interviewed by Philip Pullella of Reuters. In the tête-à-tête, the pontiff said that with respect to the dialogue with China, “We are at a good point”. In addition to diplomatic channels there are friendships and cultural exchanges. The Chinese people are “very wise” and know how to wait. By kind permission, we publish here a translation of an excerpt from the registration of the interview between the Holy Father and the journalist two days ago.

Q: How is the rapprochement with China?

R. We are at a good point, but relations with China follow three different paths. First of all, there is the official one. The Chinese delegation comes here, takes part in meetings, and then the Vatican delegation goes to China. Relations are good and we have managed to do good things. This is the official dialogue.

Then there is a second dialogue, of everyone and with everyone. “I am a cousin of the minister so and so who sent me to say that . . .”. There is always an answer. “Yes, all right, let’s go forward.” These side channels are open, let’s say, at a human level, and we do not want to burn them. We can see goodwill, both from the Holy See and the Chinese government.

The third path, which for me is the most important in the rapprochement with China, is cultural. Some priests work at Chinese universities. Then there is also culture, like the exhibit that was put on in the Vatican and in China.[1]This is the traditional path, like those of the great ones, like Matteo Ricci.

I like to think about relations with China as, multifaceted, based not only the official diplomatic one, because the other two are very enriching. I think things are going well. In your question, you mentioned two steps forward and one step backward. I think the Chinese deserve the Nobel Prize for patience, because they are good, they know how to wait, time is theirs and they have centuries of culture . . . They are a wise people, very wise. I respect China a lot.

Q: How do you respond to concerns such as those of Cardinal Zen?

A: Cardinal Zen taught theology in patriotic seminaries. I think he’s a little scared. Perhaps age might have some influence. He is a good man. He came to talk to me. I received him, but he’s a bit scared. Dialogue is a risk, but I prefer the risk to the sure defeat of not talking. With respect to time, someone mentioned Chinese time. I think it is God’s time, forward, calm.


[1] The twin exhibit at the Vatican and in Beijing, decided last November, should have been held in March 2018, but, according to Vatican sources, has not yet been realised for “technical reasons”.

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One comment on “FrankenPope talks to Reuters about the ‘dialogue with [Red] China’

  1. The Chinese Communist Party and faithful comment on Pope Francis’ interview on dialogue with China

    Social media comments brand Francis as a “politician”, as a “tool of soft power” against the United States, whose moves destroy the Church and the mission in China. But there is also appreciation for his continuing to hold open the door to dialogue, and for his esteem for Chinese culture. The Chinese Communist Party reiterates that religions must be “independent” and must not be influenced “from abroad”. The foreign ministry spokesperson reiterates – as it has for years – the “sincerity” with which China dialogues with the Vatican. Card. Zen’s prayer for Pope Francis.

    Rome (AsiaNews – 6/25/18) – In his praise of dialogue between the Holy See and China Pope Francis was “too political” and his moves will have “no results”. There are even those who note that with that interview, the pontiff has become “a tool of soft power” for China against the United States in the tariff war. Others, even more negative, say that with Francis’ method the Church’s mission in China will be destroyed, especially the underground Church, and by practicing a dialogue without criteria of justice, only “disaster” and “death” will be created. These are some of the comments on Chinese (catholic) social networks following the interview that Pope Francis gave to Reuters, and that some AsiaNews readers in China have sent us. We only know the authors of some of the comments. Others are not signed. In any case, they are an essay on the varied views among Catholics on the position of the Vatican Secretariat of State and the attitude of the pontiff towards dialogue with China. Among the comments we present, there are also positive ones, which praise Pope Francis’ esteem for Chinese culture, or that appreciate his willingness to keep the line of dialogue open at all costs, even without apparent results. It should be noted that on the same days there were some “side swipes” – not directed – at the pontiff by some official or semi-official media. The Global Times, newspaper near the People’s Daily, reported on 21 June the words of the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, who used the stereotyped formula – already used many times over the years – of the “sincerity” with which China pursues “constructive dialogue” to improve “relations with the Vatican”. The “People’s Daily” article, the official organ of the Chinese Communist Party, uses heavier, albeit indirect, tones. In the June 19 edition, it published an analysis of the religious policy of the Chinese government, praising it as the guarantor of the religious freedom of all, and reaffirming the importance of the principle of “independence” of religions from foreign organs and structures (and therefore also from the Holy See), as well as the absolute necessity for religions to be “guided” by the Chinese Communist Party.

    Finally, Card. Joseph Zen – whom the pontiff mentions in his interview – published the prayer “pro Pontifice” in Latin as his only response to the interview: ” Oremus pro Pontifice Nostro Francisco.Dominus conservet eum et vivificet eum et beatum faciat eum in terra et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum ejus”. Here are the comments received by AsiaNews.

    1) Even if the bilateral meeting was held late, the dialogue continues; we can see that (China) left a good impression in Rome. Of course, the interview has little content: this means that negotiations are not easy. On the one hand, there is a good impression, on the other we realize the difficulty of dialogue. The Pope believes that dialogue is positive and can still proceed.

    2) Diplomatic jargon, too political, I do not care.

    3) It will have no result.

    4) Since the papacy of Pope Francis began in 2013, the Holy See has sought to courageously change its internal and external policies. The Vatican is emerging with a new vision in the scenario of international politics that has also given new hope to the normalization of the Sino-Vatican diplomatic relationship.

    China is not currently reduced to the irrevocable situation [in which it was] in the late Qing Dynasty. Faced with a superpower, a confident Chinese government itself, it is not easy for the Roman Curia to ask the Chinese government to give up control over religions. The underground community, which is found mainly in the countryside or in backward areas, is a product of the Holy See’s “indecision” and often subsists in a precarious condition.

    On the Sino-Vatican relationship, we have often noticed, it is the Vatican that begs China and not vice versa. Many [in the Vatican] think that we need to be flexible to obtain more freedom for Chinese Catholics. In reality, on matters of faith, religion, the Constitution and human rights, China has changed nothing.

    The Church’s tradition forbids the temporal powers from intervening on episcopal appointments. In this case, even China does not allow any institution to operate within its territory, with a system different from its (Patriotic Association).

    After the Chinese economic reform, and until today, the official Church has tried in every way to re-establish contacts with the Holy See; instead the unofficial Church, because of the death of the old bishops, slowly became a community in its own right. The Holy See hopes for the unity of the two communities, but in reality they are moving further and further away. This fact inevitably creates an obstacle to the development of Catholicism in China and eventually becomes an excuse for persecution.

    Only after the unity of the two communities can the Holy See perform its functions. Because of the lack of communication, the role of the Apostolic See is very limited.

    5) [The Pope says: Dialogue is a risk.] Risking, making Chinese Catholics pay, in particular the underground community? This is what happened in 1937, when the Roman Curia and the Third Reich had agreements. And this, in the end, ruined the Church in Germany.

    6) He [the Pope] avoids matters and does not touch on the essential points. He is a typical diplomat, a politician, especially for the sentences referring to Card. Zen. He is too worried [about making a good impression] with China and then with an unacceptable ending: “I say that the Chinese deserve the Nobel Prize for patience, because they are good, they know how to wait, time is theirs and they have centuries of culture … a wise, very wise people “. The Pope said that “the whole world respects Chinese wisdom”: it is really unbelievable! Appreciating the Chinese wisdom … How do the Chinese see their wisdom? A man with a sense of justice would say that such wisdom is actually only cunning.

    7) Keeping the Chinese government good.

    8) The Pope thinks that Card. Zen is a bit scared, afraid to take risks. According to the Pope, dialogue is a risk and he prefers risk rather than certain defeat without dialogue. So, Pope Francis knows very well that he is risking and wants to risk. He responds actively to all forms of dialogue, including that of “with everyone and for everyone” and the cultural one too.

    The spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed his appreciation of the Holy See, showing that it is used as a tool for soft power. Precisely on the day when the US left the UN Human Rights Council in the name of God, and decided to tighten its trade policies towards China [v. war of duties], then the vicar of Christ is a good delegate [for China] to blame Trump’s policy in an effective and powerful way. Meanwhile, China can always say that it respects religion and affirms the importance of religious freedom in China and promotes their development.

    This use of soft power, in a non-theatrical way, to express a long-term respect [for China] can change China, restore confidence. The Pope is very far-sighted, because he knows well that this is a way out for the Chinese government, although he holds the welfare of the Chinese people above all else. The Pope again emphasizes that “the Chinese deserve the Nobel Prize of patience, because they are good, they know how to wait, time is theirs and they have centuries of culture … it is a wise, very wise people. I respect China as much “. These are words that really come from the heart.

    9) What a good one! Speak without touching on the questions.

    10) Dialogue is a good thing! But if we forget our principles, it is no longer good.

    The dialogue between Jesus and the sinful woman is a good example for us. Can we regret the abandonment of the principle of dialogue, while for example there are demolitions of churches, arrests of bishops and priests, prohibition of entry to minors in the church, consecration of illegitimate bishops, continuous persecution? What is the purpose of this dialogue? Dialogue between the Church and temporal power does not mean that the Church must follow temporal power. The Church is the light on the path of the faithful, it is not an atheistic organization, it is not even a company without principles that deals with temporal power. What is there to say? We do not know, what a pity!

    Today, Christians are dwindling in the West, Asians think only of making gains, the world only seeks money, then who will support the virtues of the people? Perhaps, without diplomacy and dialogue, can the Church no longer lead her flock? Meaningless dialogue will only bring disaster and death.

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