Pope Francis does not stop looking at the Asian giant, China

Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the promoter of a new geopolitics in the small but influential Vatican State and aims to conquer Asia at all costsWith the election of Francisco five years ago, the Church’s concern for conflicts and the world’s problems has changed the geopolitical vision of the Vatican, which now faces the delicate challenge of approaching China.

The next March 13 marks the fifth anniversary of that “white smoke” that placed on the throne of San Pedro the first Latin American pope in history, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, driving a new geopolitics in the small but influential Vatican State.

The pontiff quickly oriented the external action of the Holy See, traditionally Western, to the south and east of the world, Africa and the Far East, explains to Efe the professor of Vatican Geopolitics at the Roman University Link Campus, Piero Schiavazzi.

Perhaps following the prophecy marked by John Paul II in his apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Asia(1999), in which he pointed out that while in the first millennium “the cross was planted” in Europe and in the second in America and Africa, in the current It will be done in Asia.

It is the “old dream” of Jesuits like Francisco Javier or Matteo Ricci, missionaries in an Asia in which Catholics grow, up to 141 million faithful, although they only represent 3.24% of the total population, according to a report by 2017 from Fides Agency.

And in that vast continent, the interest resides in the People’s Republic of China, a country with which the Holy See has not had relations since 1951, after the rise to power of Mao Zedong, and with which there are ongoing negotiations for a possible rapprochement .

Pope Francis acknowledged that there is a “political dialogue” that occurs “slowly, delicately” during the return flight from Bangladesh, the last Asian country to have visited after Burma, South Korea, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

The main stumbling block in the relations between Beijing and Rome is the appointment of bishops because the Chinese authorities do not accept that the Pope designates charges and in their place they do, originating two parallel churches, the “patriotic” and the “clandestine”.

Both parties

However, in recent times both parties have shown signs of rapprochement, such as the unprecedented permission to fly over China on its trip to Seoul in 2014 (denied to Karol Wojtyla in 1989) or what is already known as “art diplomacy”, the exchange of assets.

Francisco alluded to an agreement that many consider imminent and that has raised doubts, since everything indicates that it would accept consensual appointments, although it would allow reaching the nearly 10 million Catholics in communion with Rome and who pray almost in hiding.

In any case, Schiavazzi points out that it would serve as “a first phase” for the future, respecting the criterion that the Pope defended in his exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (2013): “time is greater than space”, yielding to enter China .

“He aims to convert China because he understands that the Church is playing its future, if the Church remains in the current 3% in Asia it will be peripheral and marginal in the geopolitics of this century,” he said.

The Vatican of Francis also looks at Russia and the relaxation of its relations passes through the powerful Orthodox Patriarchate, something already started with the historic meeting in Havana between the Pope and the patriarch Cyril, the first since the Great Schism of 1054.

For this, and waiting for a dreamed trip to Russia, Francisco, who has met twice with Vladimir Putin in the Vatican, sent last August to Moscow to his state secretary, Pietro Parolin, with the Syrian and Ukrainian crisis background.

Bergoglio also treasures other diplomatic successes such as the historic thaw between the Cuba of Raul Castro and the United States of Barack Obama, later dynamited by his successor, Donald Trump.

 

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