Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cardinal Tauran to visit Taiwan Amid Speculation on Vatican Ties

Cardinal Tauran is coming to Taiwan:

A SENIOR Vatican cardinal is to hold talks in Taiwan this week amid speculation that Rome is preparing to break its links with the island and establish diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the former Vatican Foreign Minister, arrives in Taipei on Friday for a week-long visit, including a meeting with Chen Shuibian, the Taiwanese President. Vatican sources said that, as the Foreign Minister from 1990 until November 2003, the cardinal knew "the inside story" of the Vatican's troubled relations with China. In his current post as the head of the Secret Archives, he remained "one of the Pope's confidants".

Diplomats said that Vatican moves to mend fences with China had the "active backing" of the Bush Administration. Francis Rooney, the new US Ambassador to the Holy See, said that Mr Bush hoped that a rapprochement would give "further impetus to religious freedom in China".

It's unlikely that the Vatican move will lead to more religious freedom in China. The Vatican is more likely attempting securing privileged positions for its own people there, and perhaps get Catholic political prisoners released. The article says that the visit was planned months ago, and thus cannot be about the switch of recognition, but that excuse is ridiculous. The planning may be old, but of course the visit is topical. As the article notes:

Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Archbishop of Washington, have recently visited China. Cardinal Mahony said he was very optimistic that ties between the Vatican and Beijing would be established.

The Cardinal said that the distinction between the official and underground churches was "blurring and disappearing" and both now displayed portraits of Pope Benedict.

The term "ties" is vague, but Beijing won't settle for less than full recognition.

No comments: