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Heavenly powers : Holy See diplomacy toward China

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Bozzato, F 2009 , 'Heavenly powers : Holy See diplomacy toward China', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Holy See-China relations have a long and chequered history marked by political as well as cultural conflicts. Since the foundation of the People's Republic of China (PRC), these relations have represented one of the thorniest and most complicated diplomatic questions on the world stage. After a long period of absence of communication, over the last three decades the Holy See and Beijing have held secret or discreet talks. These talks to date, however, have not led to the opening of formal negotiations. The current diplomatic stalemate is mainly due to the PRC's intransigence in demanding the Holy See cede the direction of the Catholic Church in China to China' own governmental organizations and sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan. While the Holy See is leaning toward compromise on the latter request, it can hardly bend to the former. In fact, the Catholic Church regards the exertion of Papal authority over the local Catholic hierarchy as a pillar of its doctrinal and institutional integrity and an essential prerequisite for establishing 'working conditions' to carry on ecclesial activities at the national level. Rome's defence of the Church's unity and independence from secular influence collides with Beijing's pursuit of institutional and ideological control over Catholics in China. This striving for control is rooted in the Chinese state apparatus' conviction that the Catholic Church, because of its organizational virtuosity, and the Holy See's international status and prestige, has a special potential to undermine the Communist Party's authority. Holy See-PRC diplomatic normalization is, therefore, predicated on the solution of the conflict of authority between the Apostolic See and Beijing.
In order to understand this conflict and identify possible solutions to it, this study investigates the Holy See's diplomatic policy toward China. This thesis initially explains the unique position that the Holy See occupies in the international system and delivers a diachronic analysis of the evolution of Sino-Pontifical relations by individuating and examining their historical phases. Subsequently, the thesis shifts its focus to contemporary developments and options in Holy See-PRC interaction by analyzing Benedict XVI's 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics. It then investigates the main obstacles to diplomatic progress, including factional dynamics within the Church. Finally, this study explores the potential solutions which - on the basis of political-diplomatic precedents and the tradition of the Catholic Church - the parties could adopt in order to establish formal relations.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Bozzato, F
Keywords: Papacy, Catholic Church
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Copyright 2009 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (MA)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

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