.- Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., Director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed this morning that a rumored Vatican meeting on the situation of the Catholic Church in China will occur this coming Friday, January 19th and Saturday, January 20th.
The meeting, according to Lombardi will be run by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State of the Holy See.
Yesterday the French I-Media news agency reported that the meeting is to focus on China's strained relations with the Holy See after Beijing consecrated several bishops last year without papal approval, a move seen as "unlawful" by Pope Benedict.
A spokesman for Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen also told I-Media last week that the Catholic leader planned to attend the meeting.
China's state-sanctioned church, which does not answer to the pope, has about four million worshippers, official figures show. The Vatican estimates the country's underground Catholic Church has around 10 million followers.
In 1951 Beijing cut diplomatic ties with the Vatican and the Vatican has since diplomatically recognized Taiwan, the highly contentious island regarded by China as part of its territory.
China had previously insisted that in order for Catholicism to be legalized in the country, the Vatican must sever ties with Taiwan and not interfere in its internal affairs.