Feb 16, 2011

Taiwan: Cardinal Set For Historic China Trip

Taiwanese Cardinal is allowed into China to hold a joint mass in Shanghai even though the Holy See has only formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan and not with the Peoples Republic.

Below is an article published by AFP: 

Taiwan's Catholic Cardinal Paul Shan will make a historic visit to China this year in the first contact between Catholics on the two sides in more than 60 years, the organiser of his trip said on Tuesday [15 February 2011]. 

Shan, who was born 88 years ago on the mainland, is expected to hold a joint mass with Shanghai Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian in June, said organiser Chou Chin-huar. 

He is also scheduled to visit universities in Shanghai and Xiamen to promote his fight against lung cancer, said Chou, head of cancer charity the Chou Ta-Kuan Foundation in Taipei.

In his native city of Zhengzhou in central China, Shan will visit his family tombs and hold a "dialogue of life" with Taiwan's hi-tech firm Foxconn, which has been plagued by a spate of employee suicides in recent years. 

"This will be an ice-breaking trip as Catholics on the two sides have not been in contact before," Chou told AFP. 

"We have been working very hard for this trip to take place," he said, adding that the visit was set after a meeting between Shan and Wang Zuoan, head of China's Religious Affairs Bureau, in Taiwan last year. 

However, Shan's week-long trip will not include Beijing due to "political sensitivity," Chou said.

The Vatican and China have not had formal diplomatic ties since 1951 when the Holy See's recognition of Taiwan sparked anger in Beijing. 

The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association does not acknowledge the authority of Pope Benedict XVI and is fiercely opposed to the "clandestine" Catholic Church clergy loyal to the pontiff. 

China has about five million Catholics who worship at Communist Party-sanctioned "official" churches, while up to 11 million reportedly worship at "underground" churches not sanctioned by the government. 

A brief war of words erupted between Beijing and the Vatican in December, with China rebuffing criticism by the pope of its curbs on practicing Catholics and of the state-sanctioned Chinese church.