ROME, October 4, 2005 ( – Long-time watchers of the situation of Christians in China will not be surprised that the communist government appears to not have had any intention of allowing four invited Catholic bishops to attend the Vatican Synod currently under way. Fr. Bernardo Cervellera, writing on, however, says that officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State are among those few who expected the anti-Christian Chinese regime to keep its word and the Chinese bishops to attend.

In early September, Rome announced that four Chinese bishops, two of whom were appointed by the communists’ Chinese Patriotic Association and not officially recognized by Rome, were to attend the October meeting in which internal Church matters were to be discussed.

One anonymous source in the Secretariat told AsiaNews, “We have been deceived.” One Vatican official told AsiaNews, “Rome had some hope, that there was at least a 50% chance of a positive response. But so far none of the bishops has received permission.”

The invitation to the Chinese bishops was looked upon by the Vatican and international human rights observers as an occasion to test whether changes really have occurred in the Chinese government on religious freedom.

The eagerness of Vatican officials to believe that the communists would play by the same rules of honesty and good will as everyone else is matched by most western governments who persist in treating China’s Communist rulers as legitimate rulers and fellow-players in world events. The booming Chinese economy and the importance of the Pacific Rim to the US, Canada and Asia are major factors in maintaining the unhealthy status quo.

Globe and Mail coverage of the recent visit of the President of China to Canada emphasized the value of economic ties over the human rights violations. President Hu Jintao told 800 guests at a hotel luncheon on September 17, “The Chinese government attaches great importance to Asia Pacific regional co-operation. China and Canada are two important Pacific Rim countries.”

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