China says it hopes new pope will be 'flexible' and 'practical'
BEIJING (AFP) - China, which has long had strained ties with the Vatican in a dispute about authority over Catholics in the country, said on Thursday it hoped newly elected Pope Francis would take a "practical and flexible" attitude.
"We hope that under the leadership of the new pope the Vatican will adopt a practical and flexible attitude and create conditions for the improvement of China-Vatican relations," said foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying.
Beijing joined in congratulating Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was chosen as pope a day before China's Communist party chief Xi Jinping was named national president.
But Ma Hua reiterated the political obstacles that have come between China's ruling party and the Catholic church.