Friday, February 9, 2018

The Vatican seems to be keen for a deal with Beijing

Matthew Bell, PRI

Image from article, with caption: Believers take part in a weekend service at an underground Catholic church in the Chinese city of Tianjin on Nov. 10, 2013.

The Vatican has centuries of experience in China. It was Jesuit priests who first established a permanent place for Christianity in China starting in the 16th century. Francis is the first Jesuit to become pope, and he appears eager to heal the divide running through Catholicism in China by normalizing relations between the Vatican and Beijing.

Those diplomatic ties were severed in 1951, soon after the communists took control of the mainland. Life for Chinese Catholics has been complicated, to say the least, ever since. For the Chinese government, re-establishing diplomatic relations with the Vatican would be a victory for public diplomacy. But the real motivation for Xi and his government is about social control, says Ian Johnson.
 “Beijing just issued new regulations on religion that call for even tighter control on religion,” says Johnson, author of “The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao.” ...

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