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Vatican diplomat seeks to calm the waves

VATICAN (SE): “The claim that there are two different Churches in China does not correspond with reality,” the Vatican secretary of state, Petro Cardinal Parolin, was quoted by the Vatican Insider as saying on August 24.

Dismissing what he called the biggest piece of disinformation ever circulated about the Catholic Church in China, Cardinal Parolin told Stefania Falasca, from Avvenire, the newspaper of the Bishops’ Conference of Italy, “There are in fact two communities that are both eager to live in full communion with the successor of St. Peter.”

In a pointed attempt to calm the waves of comment smashing against the barque of Peter over negotiations between the Holy See and Beijing, the cardinal pointed out that because of historical reasons, both expressions of the Church carry their own baggage and both have their own historical moments of great suffering, which he commented tells us something about the complexity and contradictions that exist in the vast Middle Kingdom.

He described the wish of the Holy See to witness the two communities being reconciled, embracing each other and giving and receiving in the proclamation of the gospel in a manner that can be truly  credible.

The cardinal stressed that this is the reconciliation that Pope Francis holds close to his heart, as he too wants to see the tensions of the past and the divisions that still exist dissolve into a new chapter of Church history.

“There is much hope and expectation that there will be new developments and a new season in relations between the Holy See and China,” Cardinal Parolin said during a speech in the northern Italian town of Pordenone.

Cardinal Parolin added that the talks with Beijing are taking place in good faith on both sides of the fence, as both parties are seeking realistic solutions for everyone.

“For the Holy See, it is particularly important that Chinese Catholics be able to live their faith in a positive way, whilst also being good citizens and contributing to the reinforcement of harmony throughout Chinese society,” the Vatican diplomat said.

He added that moving past the baggage of the past is a long and painstaking challenge that is not going to achieve 100 per cent success overnight.

He called for patience and trust, as well as keeping the perspective that at present, negotiations are simply about achieving some type of reconciliation between the official and unofficial Church communities and smoothing the way for the Church to live a more normal life in China.

However, Cardinal Parolin sees the patching up of relations with China as being of benefit to the whole world, as he said, “Dare I say, it would also be of benefit to an ordered, peaceful and fruitful cohabitation of peoples of all nations in a world, such as ours, which is lacerated by so many tensions and so many conflicts.”

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