Beijing Cautions New Pope on Meddling in China
By Gerry Mullany, NY Times, March 14, 2013
HONG KONG—China congratulated Pope Francis on Thursday on his ascension to the papacy, but also warned the Vatican not to interfere in what China deems to be its internal affairs.
The reaction underscored the tensions between the Vatican and China’s government, which has been accused of suppressing Catholicism under Communist rule.
Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said that Beijing hoped the pope, who was elected on Wednesday, would work with Chinese officials on improving relations. But, she said, the Vatican “must stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, including in the name of religion.”
She also said the Vatican must sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan before ties with Beijing improve. China considers Taiwan a renegade province that is part of its territory.
The Vatican, however, has resisted cutting ties to Taiwan and wants China to give assurances on granting religious freedom to China’s Catholics.
An estimated 12 million Roman Catholics in China have been divided for decades between a state-supervised church that has appointed bishops without papal approval and an “underground” wing that resists government ties.