Thursday, May 08, 2008

Taiwan: the nunciature is empty

As the Holy Father receives the Chinese Philharmonic orchestra in concert, performing Mozart's Requiem (AsiaNews covers the reaction on Chinese websites), on his blog Sandro Magister notes the very quiet dismantling of the Holy See's nunciature in Taipei. "Da la nunziatura di Taiwan se ne va l'ultimo. E spegne la luce." (From the nunciature in Taiwan, the last one leaves. And turns off the light.) [The following is my translation]
From Thursday, the 8th of May, the seat of the nunciature is dismantled.

The nuncio has not been there for many years. But now, the last remaining one is also leaving, the Charge d'Affairs, the Indian Ambrose Madtha, a polyglot who speaks English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Albanian and Chinese. He has been promoted to the Apostolic Nuncio in the Ivory Coast, and is packing his bags.

On the evening of the preceding day, in the Vatican, the Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra and the Choir of the Opera of Shanghai, performed a concert in the presence of, and in honor of Pope Benedict XVI. In a deliberate move, the authorities of the Holy See did not invite the members of the diplomatic corps, so that the Taiwanese Ambassador could absent himself without having to explain himself.

The block of Taiwan is one of the refrains systematically invoked by the Chinese authorities against an accord with the Church of Rome. The Vatican is searching ways to tacitly put out this contentious issue, without causing conflict with the island, where there exists a solid Catholic community.
I am by no measure at all an expert, or even very knowledgeable about the relations between the Holy See and China, or even the state of the Church in China. I trust that the diplomats at the Holy See are quite aware of the reality of the regime that they are dealing with, which seems to be very interested in symbols of national greatness, as part of a nationalistic vision of China as a growing power that now commands world respect (not to mention tremendous economic clout). Conciliation with the Holy See will indeed be a diplomatic coup for Beijing. I just hope that this comes about with some kind of genuine guarantee of religious freedom for Chinese Catholics, indeed, for all Chinese citizens.

No comments: