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China's reaction to Pope's resignation reflects tensions with Vatican

Published on Feb 18, 2013 7:08 PM

BEIJING (AFP) - Beijing on Monday called for Pope Benedict XVI's successor not to interfere in China's internal affairs, highlighting enduring tensions with the Vatican after the Pontiff's surprise resignation.

Asked about the Pope's decision to step down, which stunned the world when it was announced last Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Vatican "should not interfere in China's internal affairs".

The phrase is often a reference to perceived challenges to the authority of the ruling Communist Party, and China and the Vatican have clashed over issues, including the ordination of priests and who should be the final arbiter of church affairs.

Mr Hong said he hoped the next Pope would "create conditions for the improvement of bilateral relations" with China, but indicated that Beijing would not allow a thaw in relations without concessions from the Vatican.

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