Print Version    Email to Friend
Bishop Ma dreams of a handshake changing the world

SHANGHAI (SE): The birdcage bishop in Shanghai, Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, has a dream. He dreams that the president of China, Xi Jinping, and Pope Francis will at least have the opportunity to shake hands while the two men are in the United States of America (US) this September.

Pointing out that Pope Francis and Xi were both scheduled to be at the United Nations, although on different days, the bishop, who has been under house arrest since his ordination in 2012, wrote on WeChat, “As a Chinese man, I would like to see our president succeed in the US.”

He then added, “As a Catholic, I rejoiced at the news that Pope Francis was also going to be there. The fact that the two leaders will both be in Washington on September 24 captured my attention.”

Bishop Ma points to what he calls a monumental event in US-China relations, the visit of the then-president of the US, Richard Nixon, to Mao Zedong in 1972.

But he laments that since that time US-China relations have not always been rosy.

However, on a more optimistic note he points out that today, common interests prevail for the sake of the development of both parties. “They share the same problems,” he says.

Bishop Ma then recalls the words of his old professor at Fudan University, Ni Shixiong, quoting him as having said that the two nations need a win-win strategy that broadens the spirit of peace in the world.

“I believe that we can all hope for a cordial handshake between Xi and the president of the US, Barack Obama,” the bishop writes.

Bishop Ma then compares the frosty period of US-China relations with the long period of diplomacy-free relations between China and the Holy See, saying that just as the US formed useful relations before diplomatic ties were formalised, he believes that the Holy See can do the same with Beijing.

He then questions why, if all these things were possible between his own nation and the US, it cannot be done with the Holy See, asking why we shouldn’t anticipate a handshake between Xi and the pope.

“In the US, our president, Xi Jinping, and Pope Francis,” the bishop declares from Shanghai, “will have the opportunity to cross paths, but will we see that much awaited handshake? I cannot wait for this handshake to happen.”

He points to the often forceful manner in which missionaries entered China in relatively recent history, saying that this bred a mistrust which still lingers today, but now that China is prospering, it should be increasingly able to understand others with trust.

“We need to create friendships. When we interact with others, the world becomes smaller. Hostility on the other hand, creates distance and even close relatives can end up treating each other like strangers,” he continues.

“I cannot wait for a goodwill handshake, so that constructive dialogue can begin on the basis of this good faith. These times require dialogue, there is a need for a deeper understanding of one another, the two need to understand each other and join forces to move on. The world needs to establish contact with China,” he bishop points out.

Bishop Ma then recalls the priorities of social harmony and the fight against corruption pursued by Xi, saying that he hopes this will allow China to be increasingly involved in shared decision-making processes on the world stage.

“If these two leaders, who are hugely influential in the world, shake hands, not only me—for I am all but a small ant at the foot of the hill where Our Lady of Sheshan stands—but the entire world would be moved,” Bishop Ma concludes.


More from this section