06/01/2006, 00.00
VATICAN – CHINA
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In China the Church only wants to run its own affairs, says Mgr Lajolo

The Pope's 'foreign minister' says the Chinese government should not interfere in the appointment of bishops. The normalisation of relations would be good for social peace. Benedict XVI and Aleksij II might meet in the "not so distant future".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church claims the right to be free from governmental interference, including in China, insofar as its internal organisation is concerned, most notably when it comes to appointing bishops. Mgr Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, renewed this demand in an interview with the Bucharest (Romania) daily Ziud. The prelate also told the paper that he was confident that relations between the Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate would improve and that Benedict XVI and Aleksij II might meet the "not so distant future".

"As in every other country in the world, the Church is not asking for any privileges in China; it only wants the right to organise itself as it sees fit," said the Pope's 'foreign minister' among other things.

The right of the Church to appoint bishops "is established in Canon Law and does not in any way, shape or form get in the way of how the Chinese state is organised". By the same token, "China's political authorities should not interfere in the internal organisation of the Church, most notably in how it selects its bishops," Mgr Lajolo insisted.

As for normalising diplomatic relations between China and the Holy See, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States noted that "it would improve social peace among the Chinese population since the latter would no longer be torn between forced obedience to the so-called Patriotic Church and membership in the One Catholic Church in communion with the Pope, successor to the Apostle Peter, vicar of Christ."

In the interview, Mgr Lajolo also reiterated the Holy See's commitment to better relations with the Moscow Patriarchate.

"I think there are obstacles to a common vision on matters of doctrine and history, obstacles that we must face dispassionately and with a constructive spirit".

At the same time, the situation is complicated by "practical misunderstandings that are linked to different sensitivities and ways of thinking," he said. "I am referring here to the charges of proselytising levelled at the Catholic Church."

"Undoubtedly, these misunderstandings are hindering the dialogue, but with a little bit of good will, it should not be too hard to overcome them".

Hence, the prelate is "confident that Benedict XVI and Aleksij II could meet in the not so distant future". And this would be "a significant step on the path of ecumenism, not doubt one that will be long and difficult."

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