.- The Director of the Holy See Press Office issued a statement today, refusing to comment on reports of ongoing discussions between the Holy See and the government of China.
Joaquin Navarro-Valls said at mid-day, "I have no comments to make on news that has appeared in various organs of the press concerning ongoing contacts between a Holy See delegation and the Chinese authorities."
Navarro-Valls, however, did not deny that any such reports were true.
Several news services are reporting that two senior Vatican officials were in Beijing Tuesday for talks on re-establishing diplomatic relations with China.
The AP reports that two Vatican representatives, Archbishop Claudio Celli, who is secretary of the Patrimony of the Holy See, and Monsignor Gianfranco Rota Graziosi of the Secretariat of State have been in Beijing since Sunday.
Talks between the Holy See and China have been rumored for two weeks. The Sunday Times reported last week that Chinese representatives were in Rome. The week prior, reports had surfaced that envoys from the Vatican were in China.
The AP today, quoted Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Archbishop of Hong Kong, who has long been involved in the attempt to mend relations between the two bodies, as saying, “I don't have any detailed information. The Vatican hasn't told me anything. I just know people from the Vatican were planning on going to China."
The reported meetings could signal the end of over 50 years of silence between the Holy See and China. Since 1951 the Church in China has face pressure and persecution from the government. Chinese Catholics are currently faced with the choice of attending a government-run form of their religion or worshiping in secret with others who remain loyal to Rome.
Relations between the Holy See and China were beginning to warm prior to the Chinese government’s decision, two months ago, to ordain two bishops without the approval of the Vatican.
Despite Vatican indignation following the insult, talks may have resumed, partially, in order to facilitate a release for several imprisoned Chinese Catholic Bishops who are reportedly close to death.