As Chinese President Xi Jinping travels to Rome this week, there has been much speculation as to whether his trip will also include an unofficial visit with Pope Francis.
Ahead of the Chinese president’s arrival in Italy March 21, the AP reported that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said, “Our door is always open.”
“The proclamation of the Gospel in China cannot be separated from a stance of respect, esteem, and trust toward the Chinese People and their legitimate state authorities,” Parolin wrote in his introduction to the book, The Church in China: A Future Yet to be Written, published this week to coincide with Xi’s visit to Italy.
Italian media have been speculating about a possible meeting, noting that Pope Francis’ schedule does not have many appointments planned for the dates when Xi will be in Italy March 21-23.
However Chinese sources have expressed that a potential meeting between the pope and the Chinese leader is unlikely.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he was “not aware” of a potential meeting between the pope and the president, but said that China is ready to meet the Vatican halfway through “constructive dialogue” to “accumulate mutual trust.”
A Vatican source told the National Catholic Register that it is unlikely that a meeting will occur, but said that “last-minute decision is possible.”
Full story at Catholic News Agency.