Pope Francis and Xi Jinping came to power at the same time – March 13 and March 14, 2013, respectively.
In every year of Pope Francis’ pontificate, China is identified as a government which has “engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom” defined as “including torture, degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, abduction or clandestine detention, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons,” according to the U.S. State Department’s annual Religious Freedom report.
A case against China, filed in 2013 with an international tribunal, was settled on July 12. “The ruling paints a picture of an environmentally destructive, dangerously aggressive government that has no legal jurisdiction for its actions.”
“In the Chinese imagination, this is not subjugation of neighbors but simply restoration of the normal order … a return to the traditional concept of tianxia, with barbarians benefiting from Chinese civilization.”
Pope Francis told Xi Jinping, “The world looks to this great wisdom of yours.” He repeats that “the world looks to China’s wisdom and civilization,” in a February 2016 interview. The pope also “described the excitement he felt when he was about to enter Chinese airspace on the flight from Seoul to Rome in August 2014.”
During that in-flight news conference, the pope said, “I think of the great Chinese sages, theirs is a history of knowledge, of wisdom” and that he wanted to go to China “Tomorrow! Oh, yes!”
The next month, Pope Francis issued an invitation to Xi to come to the Vatican and said he was willing to go to China.
Pope Francis rejected a meeting requested by the Dalai Lama in December 2014 because Vatican negotiations with China were in a “delicate” phase. “China describes the Dalai Lama as a separatist and reacts angrily when foreign dignitaries meet him.”
Afterwards the pope repeated: “[The Chinese] know I’m available either to receive someone, or to go to China. They know.”
When the pope was in the U.S. in September 2015, he and Xi were in New York the same day. “The pope wanted to meet Xi and this message was communicated clearly to China.”
It was announced on August 5, 2016, that after more than two years of negotiations, the Vatican and Beijing reached a preliminary agreement whereby a government-controlled organization would prepare a list of candidates for bishop and the pope would choose from among them. No other civil government in the world has been granted this authority.
The pope has not been invited to China. He has not met Xi Jinping. He has never mentioned China’s aggression, “egregious violations” of religious freedom or any other human right for the Chinese. Beijing has made no concessions. Continue reading
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