Pope to fly over China, rare chance for greetings

VATICAN CITY (TIP): Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to South Korea will provide him with an unusual opportunity to speak directly to the Chinese leadership: His plane is due to fly through Chinese airspace, and Vatican protocol calls for the pope to send greetings to leaders of all the countries he flies over.When St. John Paul II last visited South Korea in 1989, China refused to let his plane fly overhead. Instead, the Alitalia charter flew via Russian airspace, providing John Paul with a first-ever opportunity to send radio greetings to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. He said he hoped to soon visit Moscow.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, said on Thursday he didn’t know what Francis’ Chinese greetings might entail. But he confirmed the Aug. 13-14 flight plan to Seoul involved flying through Chinese airspace. Relations between Beijing and Rome have been tense since 1951, when China severed ties with the Holy See after the officially atheistic Communist Party took power and set up its own church outside the pope’s authority. China persecuted the church for years until restoring a degree of religious freedom and freeing imprisoned priests in the late 1970s.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI sought to improve relations with China and encourage the estimated 8 million to 12 million Catholics who live there, around half of whom worship in underground congregations. Francis has continued the initiative, revealing in a recent newspaper interview that he had written a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping after his election, which occurred within hours of his own, and that Xi had replied.

- Advertise Here Call +1 646 247 9458 -

Trending (48 Hours)

Pentagon chief vows ‘overwhelming’ response to any North Korea nuke use

WASHINGTON (TIP): Pentagon chief Ashton Carter on Oct 20 decried North Korea's latest missile test+ and again vowed an "overwhelming" response if Pyongyang were...
- Advertise Here Call +1 646 247 9458 -