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Vatican secretary of state interviewed by China newspaper

VATICAN (AsiaNews): The Global Times, the daily Chinese tabloid run under the auspices of the People’s Daily newspaper, published an interview with Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, on May 12. It marked the first time such an interview took place.
 
The front page of the paper featured a photo of a smiling Pope Francis  and sported that headline: Pope Francis sees China as a great country, says a cardinal.
 
The publisher’s note explains that the interview is “a sign of positive developments in China-Vatican relations” confirmed by the “peaceful recent Easter celebrations”—perhaps referencing the tensions which were successfully avoided in Mindong and the “Vatican representation at the International Horticulture Exhibition.”
 
The interview, conducted by journalist, Francesco Sisci, who interviewed Pope Francis about China three years ago and Zhang Yu, saw Cardinal Parolin address problems experienced by the Church in China as well as hinting at the intentions underlying the Sino-Vatican agreement. The cardinal said he embraced, fraternally the entire Chinese Catholic community “ above all those who have suffered most and continue to suffer.”
 
Focusing on the progress of the Sino-Vatican dialogue, the cardinal remarked that there is a “an increased trust between the two sides” and said that, per Pope Francis, is not seeking to discuss theories concerning the respective systems. He said, “Instead we are looking for practical solutions which concern the lives of real people who desire to practice their faith peacefully and offer a positive contribution to their own country.”
 
Addressing disagreements and opposition to the process, Cardinal Parolin acknowledged that there are “criticisms” and they “may arise in the Church or in China or from elsewhere.” He observed that it is well known that the strongest (and most violent) criticism of the agreement comes from within China itself, from the Religious Affairs Office and from the United Front Work Department, which have been conducting a campaign to control bishops, priests, places of worship “despite the Sino-Vatican agreement.”
 
The cardinal said it would be human and Christian “to show understanding, attention and respect for those who express such criticism... Many questions still need to be addressed and we are facing them with willingness and determination .”
 
He stressed that the desire is to “find enduring solutions, which are acceptable to and respectful of all concerned.”
 
He also made note of criticisms of a different kind “which come from prejudiced positions and which seem to seek to preserve old geopolitical balances.” He said that Pope Francis—who is well aware of all that has happened in the past— “the main interest in the ongoing dialogue is on the pastoral level: he is making a great act of trust and respect for the Chinese people and their culture of millennia, with the well-founded hope of receiving an equally sincere and positive response.”
 
Cardinal Parolin reiterated that the pope “sees China not only as a great country, but also as a great culture, rich in history and wisdom. Today China has come to arouse great attention and interest everywhere, especially among young people” and he hopes that China “will not be afraid to enter into dialogue with the wider world”  and “will be able to overcome mistrust and build a more secure and prosperous world.”
 
The cardinal asked the Chinese leadership to reaffirm their willingness “not to undermine the nature and the doctrine of each religion,” saying that through dialogue, inculturation and Sinicisation “can be complementary,” but that “the main actors of this commitment are Chinese Catholics.”
 
Asked what he would say to political leaders, Cardinal Parolin asked that they “not be afraid to lift their gaze, beyond immediate success, to seek lasting and far-reaching solutions without preconditions which can contribute to building a more humane, more just and more worthy future for everyone.”

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