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New Vatican representative to handle relations with Chinese dioceses

Catholic World News - March 02, 2010

The Vatican has appointed a new diplomatic representative to handle relations with the Church in China, according to the respected Roman news agency I Media. Msgr. Ante Jozic, a Croatian native who previously worked at the Vatican nunciature in Moscow, has been appointed the head of the Holy See Study Mission in Hong Kong. His assignment there will include responsibility for communications between the Chinese dioceses and the Vatican.

Msgr. Jozic replaced Msgr. Eugene Martin Nugent, who was recently named by Pope Benedict XVI to become the apostolic nuncio to Madagascar. Msgr. Nugent-- who will gain the title of Archbishop as he takes his new assignment-- had headed the Holy See Study Mission in Hong Kong since 2001. His effectiveness in communicating with the Chinese dioceses was curtailed, however, by the refusal of the Beijing government to allow him to travel regularly on the mainland.

Vatican diplomatic ties with China, which were severed in 1951 following the ascent of the Communist regime there, have been handled through a variety of informal mechanisms as Rome and Beijing continue informal talks about re-opening official ties. Chinese officials still object to the presence of a Vatican diplomatic representative in Taiwan, who holds the rank of chargé d'affaires rather than ambassador. The Chinese regime insists that the Holy See's official representative should be in Beijing. Vatican officials have no objection to that demand. In October 2005, Cardinal Angelo Sodano-- then the Vatican Secretary of State-- told reporters: "If we could have ties with Beijing, then-- not tomorrow but tonight-- the nuncio-- or rather the chargé d'affaires who is now in Taiwan would head for Beijing."

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