Pope Francis' recent remarks on China expressed a positive signal for dialogue between the two countries, a Chinese expert said Thursday, while calling for more patience as it takes time to reach consensus on the thorny issues that go beyond religion.
"Dialogue is a risk, but I prefer risk rather than the certain defeat that comes with not holding dialogue," Pope Francis was quoted as saying by Reuters on Wednesday.
"I have great respect for China," he said, without releasing details about the dialogue between China and the Vatican.
Exchanges between China and the Vatican have made headway in recent years, and "the Pope's words are worth applause as the remarks again reinforced a positive indication regarding the relationship," said Yan Kejia, director of the Institute of Religious Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
China has always sincerely hoped to improve relations with the Vatican and is willing to make continuous efforts to promote constructive dialogue with the nation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing on Thursday.
"As for some dissent on the notion of improving relations between the two nations, it does not represent the opinion of the overall Catholic community in China, and will soon be forgotten," Yan said.
Outspoken cardinal Joseph Zen from Hong Kong said earlier this year that the direction of the talks between China and the Vatican suggests the Vatican "is preparing to sell out the underground church."
The two sides have started a new round of talks on the appointment of bishops, Reuters reported. The two countries do not have diplomatic relations.
"It is worth noting that relations between the two countries involve multiple issues, which cannot be solved overnight and require patience from both sides," Yan said.