05/05/2006, 00.00
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Money, not politics behind Vatican exhibit delay

In the works since 2004, the exhibition has been delayed indefinitely for technical problems according to Hong Kong authorities.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/SCMP) – The "long delay" in staging a Vatican art exhibition in Hong Kong was due to the "high cost involved", the government of the former British colony said yesterday, whilst sidestepping questions on whether political pressure from Beijing was behind the hold-up over the ordination of mainland bishops without Vatican approval.

The Vatican Museums wrote to the Territorial government again last month, pushing for a "progress report on the exhibition".

Hong Kong's plan to stage an exhibition of treasures from the Vatican Museums appears to have been delayed indefinitely even though preliminary discussions began in 2004.

But Anissa Wong Sean-yee, director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, said progress had been held up by technical problems, including a date for the exhibition, the type of exhibits and whether items would be compatible with the theme of the display.

"One of the reasons is, of course, the expected high cost. In the past, many exhibitions went ahead quickly because we found sponsors, but with such a major exhibition, costing possibly an astronomical figure, it will take time," she said. "We have already started preliminary work . . . but as with many similar discussions, not all of the discussions might result in reality."

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