CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

Print Version    Email to Friend
Rumours rife in anticipation of pact

A Chinese proverb says: “what is whispered in one man’s ear is often heard a hundred miles away!” Our experiences today would tell us what is heard a hundred miles away is far different than what was originally said. Rumours of an impending agreement between the Holy See and the Chinese government have already caused great deal of uproar on both sides, but there is little chance of knowing precisely when an agreement would be signed and, moreover, the exact nature of the negotiations between the parties. 
 
Now, yet another rumour is doing the rounds that a pact could see the light of the day before October 1, China’s National Day! Of course, the souces did not specify the year! 
 
The Vatican has made it clear in the past that an agreement would concern areas and issues that can be agreed upon by both the parties, although they disagree on numerous other counts. The biggest fear on the side of the Chinese Church is that the Vatican of the West does not understand the Chinese realities and hence it is suicidal for the Church to give in to the demands of the Communist government, which has no concern for the Church or its leadership in any way.
 
On the other hand, the biggest argument from the Vatican side for initiating an agreement is ‘dialogue.’ The Church should not be afraid of entering into dialogue. The reason behind the Holy See’s numerous interventions in the international sphere, especially in areas of conflict and crisis is because where there is greater distance and risk of misunderstanding, dialogue is the most opportune and necessary option. A failure to initiate dialogue would mean missing the opportunity to get one’s views across the table.  
 
There are a lot of Catholics both on mainland China and in other Chinese speaking regions who prefer to disagree. “Dialogue is a must, but with whom? Dialogue needs to be open to all and involve all concerned parties. Here what worries one is, they (Vatican) are in dialogue only with the government side,” commented a priest who keeps a close watch on Sino-Vatican relations. “People like Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun had to shout aloud, because their voice is not heard”, he said. 
 
Should we react every time there is a rumour doing the rounds? Trying to piece together some of the recent developments in the state-owned media on the Mainland, we smell something cooking! 
 
On July 21, Phoenix Satellite TV, a Hong Kong-based television channel whose main audience is the Chinese mainland, aired a documentary entitled Beyond East and West: When China meets the Vatican.  “Although China and the Vatican haven’t formally established diplomatic ties, the Holy See has never showed any less concern for the distant Eastern land,” narrates the documentary. 
 
In the same month, German filmmaker, Wim Wenders’ documentary, Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, became available on Chinese streaming giant iQiyi, just two months after the film’s Cannes premiere in May. 
 
On August 1, the Global Times, the government controlled English daily in China, published an in-depth article headlined, China grasps rare chance to solve its Catholic problem during a unique papacy, by Zhang Yu in which the author goes on to say that Pope Francis has showed enormous commitment to improving China-Vatican relations since his papacy started in March 2013. 
 
Is something in the offing? Sources close to Vatican said, “It should be a rumour!” jose