Published: Tuesday, 18 April, 2006, 10:46 AM Doha Time
HONG KONG: Rights groups in Hong Kong marched yesterday in protest at warming ties between China and the Vatican, saying Rome should halt talks until Beijing grants full religious freedoms to mainlanders.
About 20 activists led by the China-baiting Southern Democratic Alliance marched through downtown to the city’s Catholic Cathedral where they handed a petition to Catholic leader Cardinal Joseph Zen’s assistant.
“We urged Cardinal Zen and the Church to think twice before establishing diplomatic relations with the Chinese Communist Party,” said alliance chairman James Lung.
“If the Holy See (Vatican) re-establishes links with China while China is still oppressing religious freedoms, that would be wrong,” Lung said.
Zen, made a cardinal by Pope Benedict in March, is seen as key to the Church’s desire to rebuild bridges between China and Rome. All ties were severed in 1951 after Beijing expelled the Vatican’s envoy.
Zen is expected to act as a conduit between the pope and Beijing.
The communist regime in China controls the mainland’s official Patriotic Catholic Church, which appoints its own bishops and refuses to recognise the authority of Rome.
Followers of the pontiff are forced to worship illegally in the so-called underground church.
The government church has about 4mn worshippers, according to official figures, while the underground church has about 10mn, based on Vatican estimates.
Non-official Catholics in China are routinely detained for weeks at a time for inviting friends to worship at home. Priests have been sentenced to years in jail and some have simply disappeared.
Zen said the Vatican had indicated it would be prepared to drop its ties with China’s rival Taiwan in order to win Beijing’s support. Any such move would be matched by an apology from the pope, he said.
Lung believed such a move would be disastrous.
“Who would represent Taiwan after that?” he asked. “The Vatican is the only state in Europe that recognises Taiwan. Taiwan’s believers would be left in the cold.”–AFP
The bolding is mine of course.
The activists point out the central conditions for any kind of detente with the PRC and the sticking point on abandoning the ROC/Taiwan. The latter is a modern democracy and the former is a post-communist totalitarian regime.
This last week on 'Frontline' was the story of Tank Man, the individual who stood out in front of a column of tanks headed towards Tiananmen Square on June 5th, 1989. Certain individuals at the Vatican might do well to watch the program.