Author: MNI Alive Media | Date: 28 December 2016
China says that it is open towards having dialogue with The Vatican. However, China's head of religious affairs, Wang Zuo'an, also pointed out that Catholics should "hold up high the flag of patriotism" and adapt Catholicism to Chinese society.
According to reports in the Associated Press, China's Wang stated that China "hoped that the Vatican can adopt a flexible and pragmatic attitude, and take concrete actions to create favourable conditions for improving relations."
It was just last year where China's President Xi Jinping made a call for religions to adapt to Chinese society. He referred to it as the "sinicization of religion."
China's Communist Party has long been concerned that opposition to its rule could be spread by groups outside of its control, to include religious groups.
China broke off relations with the Vatican in 1951 after the Communists took over. Churches were closed and priests were imprisoned. Worship is allowed only in state-authorized churches outside of the Pope's authority.
China has in recent times ordained to new Bishops without the consent of the Pope. The Vatican has expressed sorrow over this development, but gave indications that it is hopeful that upcoming meetings with the Chinese Catholic Church would "give Catholics in China confidence in the Vatican-China dialogue."
China's governing authorities state that the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association has the authority to appoint Chinese bishops. However, The Vatican says this authority belongs to the Pope only.
There are estimates that 12 million Catholics underground churches in China.