The nephew of an underground Chinese bishop who has been missing for 23 years has appealed for information about his whereabouts.
Bishop Su was arrested in 1996 and deemed a "counter-revolutionary" by the communist government for refusing to join the government-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. He escaped detention in 1997 before being rearrested. His family discovered him by chance at a Baoding hospital in 2003. He has not been seen in public since.
Meanwhile the Vatican’s top diplomat says Pope Francis sees China as a “great country” and believes opposition to the recent Holy See deal with Beijing comes from those seeking to preserve vested interests.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin made his remarks in an unprecedented interview with the state-owned Chinese newspaper, theGlobal Times, a subsidiary of the People’s Daily.
The Holy See’s Secretary of State, who has spent years trying to re-establish formal diplomatic ties between the Vatican and communist leaders in Beijing, said a deal on the appointment of bishops signed in September 2018 still needs to be worked out but he was confident a “new phase of greater cooperation” had begun. China cut relations with the Holy See in 1951.
Vatican bridge building with China comes as relations between Beijing and the United States worsen. A trade war has escalated after President Donald Trump imposed $200 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports with Beijing retaliating by raising tariffs on more than 5,000 US products.
“The channels of communication are working well,” Cardinal Parolin said of Holy See-China relations.
“There are elements which demonstrate an increased trust between the two sides,” he said during the interview. “Of course, not all problems have been resolved. Many questions still need to be addressed, and we are facing them with willingness and determination. I am well aware that no one has it completely worked out.”
He added: “Obviously, criticisms which come from prejudiced positions and which seem to seek to preserve old geopolitical balances are another matter.”
Pope Francis, he said, is motivated by a pastoral concern to help Chinese Catholics, a community that for years has been divided between the underground Church loyal to Rome and its state-run branch. Following the 2018 deal, all of the Chinese bishops are supposedly in communion with Rome.
“He [the Pope] sees China not only as a great country but also as a great culture, rich in history and wisdom,” Cardinal Parolin said.