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05/13/2019 China (International Christian Concern) – Against a backdrop of thawed Sino-Vatican relations, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, was interview by Global Times, a Beijing newspaper linked to the official organ of the Chinese Communist Party on May 12. He was the first cardinal from the Holy See to receive state-run media coverage.

He talked about some problems experienced by the Church in China and also hints at the intentions underlying the Sino-Vatican agreement, “for the benefit of the entire Chinese Catholic community, which I embrace fraternally – above all those who have suffered most and continue to suffer.”

For those who are against ongoing Sino-Vatican dialogue, Parolin acknowledged that there are criticisms, and they “may arise in the church or in China or from elsewhere.” The strongest criticism of the agreement indeed comes from China itself, and from the Religious Affairs Office and from the United Front, which are implementing a campaign of control over bishops, priests, places of worship, in spite of the Sino-Vatican agreement.

Card. Parolin said, “It seems to me human and Christian to show understanding, attention and respect for those who express such criticism… Many questions still need to be addressed and we are facing them with willingness and determination.” The desire is to “find enduring solutions, which are acceptable to, and respectful of all concerned,” he added.

Card. Parolin also provided that Pope Francis “sees China not only as a great country but also as a great culture, rich in history and wisdom. Today China has come to arouse great attention and interest everywhere, especially among young people.” It is his wish that China “will not be afraid to enter into dialogue with the wider world” and “will be able to overcome mistrust and build a more secure and prosperous world.”

Last but not least, the cardinal also told Global Times that “inculturation,” a Catholic missionary practice, and “Sinicization,” a Chinese government campaign, can be “complementary” and “can open avenues for dialogue,” though he failed to recognize that Sinicization, as defined by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, is “a far-reaching strategy to control, govern, and manipulate all aspects of faith into a socialist mold infused with ‘Chinese characteristics.’”

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