John Paul II.

The passing of Pope John Paul II is even mentioned in today’s paper issue of the English newspaper China Daily on the title page (however, below the break). When reading ahead we were a bit surprised by the tactlessness of Chinese officials who–according to China Daily–combined a condolence note with stating that relations to the Vatican could be improved if the Vatican would stop diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Deutsche Welle TV (DW-TV) also sent long reports on John Paul II during their hourly news. And, as every so often, DW-TV has some focus on asia. The news brought a few minutes on the life of catholics in China. And together with this report the above statement (repeated also by DW-TV) was somewhat put back into perspective:

It was new to me that Chinese catholics are not allowed to officially name the pope their religious leader. The report distinguished clearly between the “state religion” (which is allowed to be publicly practised, but may not worship the pope) and the hidden catholics, who do stand in for their pope, but fear persecution by officials. Nevertheless, also the ‘public’ catholics found ways of having services in memory of the pope without naming him explicitely. And that has been accepted.

So surprising this might sound to our western minds, it’s just that China follows consequently its One-China politics. That is no different for any other country. Even Germany has no official diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

However, possibly not the perfect time to remind the Vatican on this topic.

Later in the news article, the pope’s efforts to strengthen the relationship to the Chinese people and nation (explicitely mentioning his apology for ‘wrongs done … by a number of Catholic missionaries during the colonial period’) were praised. So it all ends forgiving. And also here in the far east, where not many christians are living, John Paul II’s will to unify believers left its peaceful marks.

Categories: Shanghai

Originally Created: 04/04/2005 04:15:24 PM
Last Edited: 04/04/2005