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Vatican Delegation Visits China Amid Concerns Over Treatment Christians

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)– A high-level delegation from the Vatican was reportedly in Beijing Tuesday, June 27, to negotiate the possible renewal of diplomatic ties with China amid concerns over its treatment of Christians, criticism China rejects.

The delegation, led by senior Vatican negotiator Monsignor Claudio Celi and a senior official of the Vatican Secretariat of State, arrived in Beijing on Sunday, June 25, for secret talks.

They were expected to stay in the Chinese capital Beijing until July 1, Catholic and secular news reports said. Vatican officials refuse to confirm or deny the reports.

Prospects of China and the Vatican renewing diplomatic ties after five decades appeared distant in May when the Chinese Catholic church ordained two bishops without the approval of the Vatican .

COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT

China broke ties with the Vatican shortly after the Communist government came to power in 1949.

Experts say China has some 10 million Catholics who are split between an underground church loyal to the Vatican and the official church, whose members lack formal ties to the Vatican . Most of China ’s estimated 80 million Christians are Protestants who mainly meet in ‘house churches’ mushrooming across the countryside, despite reports of persecution.

News of the Vatican delegation visiting Beijing comes shortly after international criticism over China ’s alleged violations of human rights.

CHRISTIANS ARRESTED

On Monday, June 26, US-based religious right group China Aid Association (CAA) reported that China had detained at least nearly 2000 ‘house church’ Christians in one year. Earlier, this month, the United States House of Representatives approved resolutions to condemn what it called the “escalating levels of religious persecution in China ” and rejected the state-sponsored ordination of Catholic leaders.

China dismissed the June 12 resolutions saying it was based on “groundless accusations” and constituted interference in its internal affairs. “Chinese citizens enjoy full and broad freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a news conference, adding that China expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” with the resolutions.

“We advise some in the United States Congress to pay more attention their own problems and think about how to resolve their own human rights issues,” Jiang said. Analysts say that under US President George W. Bush, Washington has increasingly pressured China to improve religious rights. Bush recently met house church representatives in the White House and in November attended a Christian service in Beijing . (With reports from China and BosNewsLife Research).