For the first time, foreign ministers from China and the Vatican, two states without diplomatic ties for decades due to religious disputes, met, official media said on Saturday.
Wang Yi of China and his counterpart Mgr Paul Gallagher met on Friday in Munich, said the People’s Daily, an organ of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The German city is currently hosting the Security Conference.
A meeting at this diplomatic level is a first for at least six decades, the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China have had no diplomatic relations since the 1950s.
She intervenes in the context of warming bilateral relations since the signing of a historic agreement in 2018 on the appointment of bishops in China.
“Today is the first meeting between the foreign ministers of China and the Vatican,” said Wang Yi.
“This will open up more space for future exchanges between our two parties,” he said, according to the report published by the People’s Daily on its website.
The ruling CCP is wary of any organization, especially a religious one, that could threaten its authority. He had long distrusted the Vatican because of its potential political influence on Chinese Catholics.
The estimated 10 million Catholics in China are expected to attend only state-approved churches whose clergy are validated by the CCP. But many also go to places of worship led by the religious faithful to the Pope.
Under the “preliminary” agreement signed in 2018, Pope Francis recognized Chinese bishops who had been appointed by Beijing without his approval. The text, however, gives the two parties a right of scrutiny over the appointments.
Despite the ongoing rapprochement, the restoration of official ties between the two states remains difficult to achieve.