an interview with Hong Kong’s I-Cable TV, the Vatican’s Secretary for
Foreign Relations, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, said that, with certain
conditions, the time is ripe for addressing the issue of relations
between the Vatican and Communist China.
“Our opinion is that the time is ripe: we trust in the spirit of openness of the supreme authorities of the People’s Republic of China, who cannot ignore the expectations of their people as well as the signs of the times,” the archbishop said.
Nevertheless, Archbishop Lajolo noted that diplomatic relations are “bilateral, and therefore the Holy See cannot move without the consensus of the government of Beijing.” He said that contact up to now has been “informal, with officials at high and low levels. We have told everyone clearly what we are asking for, what we can concede and what we cannot give up.”
Archbishop Lajolo said the issue of religious freedom, specifically the Holy See’s ability to independently name bishops, is at the heart of the differences with Beijing.
China has set the Vatican’s severing of ties with Taiwan and the acceptance of the Chinese government’s authority to name bishops as conditions for establishing diplomatic relations. For the first time Archbishop Lajolo made it known the Vatican explicitly rejects that condition. “Faithfulness to the Successor of Peter, who Christ himself established as the Church’s guide, is at risk,” he warned.
“You cannot be Catholic if you are not in communion with the Pope,” the archbishop stated.