US embassy cable - 01VATICAN3297

THE VATICAN AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN

Identifier: 01VATICAN3297
Wikileaks: View 01VATICAN3297 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Vatican
Created: 2001-06-20 16:29:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV PHUM KIRF PINR VT CH PGOV PHUM KIRF PINR VT CH TW
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 003297 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR DRL (FARR); EUR/WE (VAN CLEVE); 
EAP/CM 
 
FROM EMBASSY VATICAN/MESSAGE NO. 94/01 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/11 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PHUM, KIRF, PINR, VT, CH, PGOV, PHUM, KIRF, PINR, VT, CH, TW.PREL, TW., religious freedom 
SUBJECT:  THE VATICAN AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN 
 
CHINA:  INPUT FOR PRESIDENTIAL BACKGROUND PAPER. 
 
(U) CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES A.I. JOSEPH 
MERANTE. REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (U) THE VATICAN'S OVERRIDING CONCERN IN 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  03297  01 OF 02  201534Z 
MAINLAND CHINA IS ITS RIGHT TO MINISTER TO THE 
ESTIMATED 10 MILLION CATHOLIC POPULATION.  THE 
VATICAN AND THE PRC DO NOT HAVE OFFICIAL 
RELATIONS.  THE PRC REPUDIATES VATICAN CLAIMS TO 
LEAD CHINESE CATHOLICS AND INTERPRETS VATICAN 
ECCLESIASTIC ACTIONS AS FOREIGN INTERFERENCE IN 
SOVEREIGN AFFAIRS.  THE PRC OVERSEES THE OFFICIAL 
"CATHOLIC PATRIOTIC ASSOCIATION," SET UP IN 1951 
TO HARMONIZE RELIGIOUS PRACTICE WITH STATE 
AUTHORITIES.  AN UNDERGROUND CATHOLIC COMMUNITY 
REMAINS LOYAL TO VATICAN LEADERSHIP. 
 
-------------------------------- 
TAIWAN, THE VATICAN, AND THE PRC 
-------------------------------- 
 
2.   (C) THE VATICAN MAINTAINS OFFICIAL STATE-TO- 
STATE RELATIONS WITH TAIWAN (THE REPUBLIC OF 
CHINA), HAVING TRANSFERRED ITS EMBASSY (KNOWN AS 
A "NUNCIATURE") FROM BEIJING TO TAIPEI IN THE 
WAKE OF THE REVOLUTION.  TAIWAN IN TURN MAINTAINS 
AN EMBASSY TO THE VATICAN, PROVIDING THE ISLAND 
NATION WITH A PRECIOUS EUROPEAN PLATFORM FROM 
WHICH TO PURSUE A VIGOROUS DIPLOMATIC AGENDA. 
THE VATICAN CONTINUES TO SIGNAL ITS READINESS TO 
DOWNGRADE ITS TAIPEI MISSION AND ESTABLISH 
OFFICIAL RELATIONS WITH THE PRC.  THE VATICAN 
AFFIRMS THAT THE MOTHBALLING OF ITS ORIGINAL 
BEIJING NUNCIATURE WAS NEVER DEFINITIVE, ADDING 
THAT IT HAS CONSISTENTLY PRACTICED A ONE-CHINA- 
POLICY.  THE VATICAN HAS A LOW-KEY PRESENCE IN 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  03297  01 OF 02  201534Z 
HONG KONG, AN OFFICE THAT IS A VESTIGE OF THE 
HAND-OVER; IT CLAIMS TO BE POISED TO REOPEN IN 
BEIJING QUOTE OVERNIGHT ENDQUOTE, A CLAIM THAT IS 
LARGELY RHETORICAL.  TAIWAN'S REPRESENTATIVES TO 
THE VATICAN ARE SANGUINE AT THIS PROSPECT OF A 
DIPLOMATIC SEA CHANGE, YET THE TAIWAN EMBASSY IS 
QUIETLY EXPLORING OTHER WAYS TO PRESERVE A 
DIPLOMATIC PRESENCE IN ROME, FOR INSTANCE, 
THROUGH ACCREDITATION TO THE SOVEREIGN MILITARY 
ORDER OF MALTA, LOCATED IN ROME AND FORMALLY 
RECOGNIZED BY 85 GOVERNMENTS, INCLUDING ITALY. 
 
3.  (C) VATICAN DISCUSSIONS WITH THE PRC REMAIN 
UNOFFICIAL, IRREGULAR, AND OFTEN VITUPERATIVE. 
THE STICKING POINT IS PRC UNWILLINGNESS TO 
ACKNOWLEDGE VATICAN JURISDICTION OVER THE CHINESE 
CATHOLIC COMMUNITY, INCLUDING VATICAN OVERSIGHT 
OF THE TRAINING OF CLERGY AND THE APPOINTMENT OF 
NEW BISHOPS.  THE PRC TREATS VATICAN CLAIMS TO 
ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITY IN CHINA AS TANTAMOUNT 
TO FOREIGN INTERFERENCE IN INTERNAL SOVEREIGN 
AFFAIRS.  WHILE THE PRC PERMITS OCCASIONAL CHURCH 
VISITS BY VATICAN ENVOYS, INCLUDING AT THE 
CARDINAL LEVEL, AND ALLOWS LIMITED TRAINING 
ABROAD FOR "PATRIOTIC" SEMINARIANS, THE RUMORS OF 
AN EMERGING DIPLOMATIC RAPPROCHEMENT HAVE BEEN 
GREATLY OVERSTATED, WITH THE VATICAN-PRC 
RELATIONSHIP INCREASINGLY STRAINED.  IN JANUARY 
2000 THE PRC CROSSED A RUBICON OF SORTS WHEN THE 
STATE-SPONSORED "CATHOLIC PATRIOTIC ASSOCIATION" 
ORDAINED FIVE BISHOPS IN DEFIANCE OF A VATICAN 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        VATICA  03297  01 OF 02  201534Z 
BAN.  CONVERSELY, THE MASS BEATIFICATION OF 120 
CHINESE MARTYRS AT THE VATICAN ON OCTOBER 1, 
2000, A PRC NATIONAL HOLIDAY IN CELEBRATION OF 
THE REVOLUTION, WAS A PROVOCATION, WITH THE PRC 
LAMBASTING THE MARTYRS AS CRIMINAL ELEMENTS AND 
IMPERIALIST BLACKGUARDS.  THE PRC WAS DEAF TO 
VATICAN PROTESTS THAT THE CHOICE OF DATE WAS 
SHEER COINCIDENCE. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
THE CATHOLIC PATRIOTIC ASSOCIATION AND THE 
UNDERGROUND CHURCH: A BLURRING LINE. 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
4.   (C) IN 1951 THE PRC ESTABLISHED AN OFFICIAL 
"CATHOLIC PATRIOTIC ASSOCIATION" TO MINISTER TO 
THE COUNTRY'S CATHOLI 
C POPULATION.  RELIGIOUS 
PRACTICE OUTSIDE THE CONFINES OF THE PATRIOTIC 
ASSOCIATION IS TECHNICALLY ILLEGAL, YET HAS 
CONTINUED IN GATHERINGS OF THE SO-CALLED 
UNDERGROUND CHURCH.  ACCORDING TO THE VATICAN, 
MEMBERS OF THIS UNDERGROUND CATHOLIC COMMUNITY 
CONTINUE TO RUN THE RISK OF DETENTION, PUNITIVE 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2122 
 
PAGE 01        VATICA  03297  02 OF 02  201534Z 
ACTION DRL-02 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    ACQ-00   CIAE-00  DODE-00  DOTE-00  DS-00 
      EAP-00   EB-00    EUR-00   FAAE-00  FBIE-00  VC-00    TEDE-00 
      INR-00   LAB-01   VCE-00   NSAE-00  SSO-00   SS-00    USIE-00 
      IIP-00   DSCC-00  SAS-00     /003W 
                  ------------------FB5A23  201607Z /38 
O 201629Z JUN 01 
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0000 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 VATICAN 003297 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR DRL (FARR); EUR/WE (VAN CLEVE); 
EAP/CM 
 
FROM EMBASSY VATICAN/MESSAGE NO. 94/01 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/11 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PHUM, KIRF, PINR, VT, CH, TW. 
SUBJECT:  THE VATICAN AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN 
 
CHINA:  INPUT FOR PRESIDENTIAL BACKGROUND PAPER. 
 
FINES, AND OTHER FORMS OF GOVERNMENT PERSECUTION. 
VATICAN MEDIA HAVE REPORTED THE RAMPANT 
DESTRUCTION OF PLACES OF WORSHIP LACKING OFFICIAL 
PERMITS.  THE VATICAN HAS VOICED CONCERN THAT 
BOTH THE CATHOLIC PATRIOTIC ASSOCIATION AND THE 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  03297  02 OF 02  201534Z 
UNDERGROUND CHURCH FACE A SHORTAGE OF CLERGY AS 
WELL AS A LOOMING GENERATION GAP, WITH MOST 
PRIESTS TRAINED BEFORE 1955 OR AFTER 1985 ON 
ACCOUNT OF A PROLONGED INTERRUPTION OF OFFICIAL 
ORDINATIONS.  MOREOVER, A NUMBER OF ELDERLY 
CLERGY REMAIN IN DETENTION, WITH THE VATICAN 
OSTENSIBLY UNABLE TO DETERMINE THEIR WELFARE AND 
WHEREABOUTS.  THE VATICAN IS CAUTIOUS IN ITS 
COMMENTARY ON THE PATRIOTIC ASSOCIATION AND THERE 
ARE INDICATIONS THAT THE DIVISION BETWEEN THE 
PATRIOTIC AND UNDERGROUND CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES IS 
BLURRING.  ACCORDING TO VATICAN SOURCES AND FIELD 
REPORTING, A NUMBER OF CLERGY IN THE PATRIOTIC 
CHURCH ARE IN TRUTH LOYAL TO THE VATICAN. 
SIMILARLY, THE VATICAN WELCOMES VISITS BY 
PATRIOTIC ASSOCIATION SEMINARIANS AS A CHANCE TO 
SHAPE, EVEN IF INDIRECTLY, THEIR THEOLOGICAL 
FORMATION. 
MERANTE 
 


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