Diplomacy Blooms as China Invites Vatican to Join Garden Expo

VATICAN CITY The Vatican said Tuesday it has accepted a Chinese invitation to take part in an international horticultural exhibition in a sign of blooming relations since their historic deal last year.

“The aim is to create an atmosphere of dialogue,” said the Vatican’s culture minister Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who will inaugurate the Holy See’s pavilion at the exhibition on April 29.

An agreement struck in September on the appointment of bishops in China paved the way for a rapprochement between Beijing and the Vatican after diplomatic ties were severed in 1951.

Both Beijing and the Holy See are now to have a say in appointing Catholic bishops in the Communist country, the world’s most populous.

The accord was forged despite a clampdown on religious worship in China, where churches were destroyed in some regions and several church-run kindergartens closed last year. Authorities have also cracked down on Bible sales.

The pavilion at the “Live Green, Live Better” exposition, which is to run to October, will house books on the cultivation and medicinal properties of herbs and plants from the Vatican Apostolic Library, Ravasi told media.

The aim is to promote messages expressed by Pope Francis in the 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si,” which called for deep changes in lifestyle, production and consumption to restore nature and combat climate change.

Source: Voice of America