Taiwan: Vatican Ready to Relocate Embassy
The Vatican was ready to move its embassy from Taipei to Beijing at any time provided the Chinese authorities could guarantee religious freedom, the Holy See's top envoy to Taiwan said yesterday.
The Vatican's charge d'affaires, Monsignor Ambrose Madtha, told the Taipei Times yesterday in a telephone interview that it was "a step forward" for the Vatican to reach out to China as the Holy See is now ready to enter into "official dialogue" with Beijing over the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Madtha was responding to questions regarding statements made by Vatican Foreign Minister Giovanni Lajolo, who said in an interview with a Hong Kong cable TV station last Saturday that the "time is ripe" for the Vatican to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing.
"As is known, there have already been various contacts, with ups and downs," Lajolo said in an interview with Hong Kong station I-Cable TV. "It seems to me that the Holy See has clearly explained what it is asking for, what it is ready to concede and what it can never give up if it is to remain faithful to itself. In our opinion, the time is ripe."
"[Lajolo's comments] meant that the time is ripe for official dialogue [between the Vatican and Beijing] to begin. But [the progress of such dialogue] depends on how China responds to the calls of the Holy See," Madtha said yesterday, adding that previous contacts had been "unofficial" and that the Holy See was now ready to enter into "serious" talks with Beijing.
However, Madtha said that progress would only be possible if Beijing was willing to respect religious freedom and to make compromises with the Vatican.
"If religious freedom in China is guaranteed, it is okay to move the embassy from Taipei to Beijing," Madtha said.
Nevertheless, Madtha said that "so far, relations between the Vatican and Taiwan remained stable."
Madtha refuted a local media report that said yesterday that he had personally refused to meet with Taiwanese officials.
The envoy also emphasized that in the event that the Vatican moved its embassy from Taipei to Beijing, it would not abandon the 300,000 Catholics in Taiwan, but would work out a way for them to be represented.
Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang said yesterday that the Holy See would not make its decision for political reasons and had promised not to abandon Taiwanese Catholics.
"The Holy See values the rights of Taiwanese Catholics
and their religious freedom. It will not abandon the 300,000 Catholics in Taiwan
for the 8 million Catholics in China," Huang said. "The Holy See has
told us very clearly that its considerations lie with the rights of all Catholics."
Source: Taipei Times