06/06/2006, 00.00
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Card. Zen: "Contact between Vatican and China despite illicit ordinations"

Returning from a week spent in Italy, the cardinal said: "The situation has calmed down now, but the road ahead is long and a solution will not come so soon."

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Contacts between the Beijing and the Holy See "will continue notwithstanding the dispute over the ordination of two Chinese bishops by the Patriotic Association," Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun said yesterday.

The bishop of Hong Kong was speaking on his return from a week in Italy, during which he discussed Sino-Vatican affairs with high-ranking Catholic officials and took possession of his titular church in Rome, Holy Mary, Mother of the Redeemer. "After the tensions of last month, the scene is calmer and quiet now. The negotiations will continue," said the cardinal.

Ties between Beijing and the Holy See appeared to be improving with mutual expressions of goodwill since the death of Pope John Paul II in April 2005. Matters took a downward plunge last month, when the Patriotic Association [PA, the government body that controls the Chinese Church] took it upon itself to ordain two bishops – of Kunming and Wuhu – without papal approval.

The Holy See responded by issuing a tough statement recalling that such acts invited latae sententiae excommunication and saying they posed an obstacle to eventual dialogue with China.

Cardinal Zen said: "It is unlikely there will a quick solution to the dilemma." He added: "I can't set any date and there is still a long way to go. We have just started serious negotiations and an agreement will certainly not come so soon."

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