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China acknowledges pope’s resignation

BEIJING (Agencies): In an acknowledgement that China has given recognition to the announcement on February 11 that Pope Benedict XVI will resign from the papacy at the end of February, Xinhua quoted Hong Lei, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as saying on February 18 that the Holy See must break its relationship with Taiwan.

“China is willing to develop relations with the Vatican if the Vatican severs its diplomatic ties with Taiwan and refrains from interfering in China’s internal affairs,” Xinhua quoted him as saying at a regular press briefing.

Hong said that China has acknowledged reports that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28.

He added that China hopes the Vatican will show flexibility and sincerity in creating the conditions necessary to improve Beijing-Holy See ties under a new pope.

Hong urged the Vatican to recognise the government of the People’s Republic of China as being the sole legal government representing the whole of China, as well as to recognise Taiwan only as being one part of China.

“The Vatican must also refrain from interfering in China’s internal affairs, particularly the interference in the name of religion,” Hong stressed.

However, the former bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, told Vatican Insider, “The Vatican should ignore that old song!”

Gerard O’Connell quoted the feisty cardinal as saying, “They have unilaterally interrupted the dialogue. We never refused the dialogue. So let them ask for dialogue,” he continued.

The People’s Republic of China broke diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1951 and expelled the papal diplomatic representative soon after the Communist Party came to power.

“They need to show some good will. They should be humble and show they want to change. They have to show that sincerely now, instead of telling everyone else how to behave,” Cardinal Zen went on.

“We hope the new leaders take some time to look into what their people down there are doing about religion, the way they are enslaving our bishops, and doing things that are damaging our nation,” Shanghai-born Cardinal Zen concluded.

Father Federico Lombardi, the press officer for the Vatican, told the Vatican Insider that his office had no comment to make.

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