1. Chinese Paper Says Diplomatic Ties With Vatican Inevitable. 

By Reuters, February 6, 2018, 1:12 AM

China and the Vatican will establish formal diplomatic relations sooner or later because Pope Francis has the “wisdom” to resolve problems between the two sides, a state-run Chinese newspaper said on Tuesday, amid increasing controversy over the issue.

A framework accord between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops is ready and could be signed in a few months in what would be an historic breakthrough in relations, a senior Vatican source said last week.

The moves have not been without controversy in the church.

“Our brothers in mainland China are not scared of losing all their fortunes, being thrown into jail or even bleeding. Their greatest pain is from being betrayed by their ‘family members,'” wrote Zen [Cardinal Joseph Zen, former bishop of Hong Kong], who vowed to keep speaking out despite the Vatican’s rebukes.


2. Pope, Erdogan Discuss Shared Opposition to U.S. Move on Jerusalem: The Vatican visit was the first by a Turkish president since 1959. 

By Francis X. Rocca, February 6, 2018, Pg. A11

Pope Francis received Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a meeting Monday that highlighted their shared objection to U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It was the first visit by a Turkish president to the Vatican since 1959.

As protesters demonstrated near the Vatican against Turkish military strikes in Syria, the leaders met for an unusually long 50 minutes, compared with the typical half hour for papal encounters with heads of state.

The Vatican afterward issued a short statement emphasizing points of agreement, particularly on Jerusalem, which Mr. Erdogan had said would be his “top priority” in his meeting with the pope.

The Vatican said Monday’s meeting had highlighted the need for “dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law,” to promote peace in the Middle East. However, the only issue specified was the question of Je rusalem.

The statement didn’t indicate whether the two had discussed January’s attacks by Turkey and allied Syrian rebels against Kurdish militia units in Afrin , Syria. Protesters organized by a Rome-based Kurdish group demonstrated against the attacks, which Turkey says were necessary to defend itself against terrorism.


3. AP Exclusive: Letter about abuse cover-up belies pope denial. 

By Nicole Winfield and Eva Vergara, Associated Press, February 5, 2018, 3:51 PM

The letter was graphic not just in describing how the priest kissed and fondled the boy, but also in how other priests who saw the abuse tried to hush it up. Pope Francis said recently that none of the victims had come forward to denounce the cover-up, so the news that the letter was hand-delivered to Francis in 2015 is adding fuel to one of the biggest scandals of his five-year papacy.

The Associated Press obtained the eight-page letter, written in Francis’ native Spanish, and was told by both the victim who wrote it and by members of the pope’s sex-abuse commission that Francis’ top adviser assured them he gave it to the pope.


4. Protests surround visit by Turkish president to Vatican. 

By Charles Collins, Crux, February 5, 2018

The first visit by a Turkish head of state to the Vatican in 59 years was nearly overshadowed by Turkey’s military offensive on Kurdish areas in northern Syria.

The attack on the city of Afrin was launched on Jan. 20 and has led to a number of civilian casualties.

Kurdish protestors tried to enter St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to protest the pope’s meeting with Erdoğan but were blocked by police. On Monday, they protested near Castel Sant’Angelo, near the Vatican.

They were holding signs calling Turkey a state-sponsor of terrorism, as well as photos of the civilian victims of the Turkish military offensive. Several also held signs calling for the release of Abdullah Öcalan, a Kurdish nationalist leader who has been jailed in Turkey since 1999.

After Erdoğan left the Vatican, the demonstrators once again tried to make their way into St. Peter’s Square but were stopped by riot police. At least one protestor was injured in the incident.

It was not only Kurdish activists protesting the visit by the Turkish leader.

A group of international press freedom groups released an open letter calling on the pope to bring up Turkey’s crackdown on independent journalists with Erdoğan.

Signatories included the International Press Institute, European Center for Press and Media Freedom, PEN International, and Reporters without Borders.


5. Moscow exhibit on Vatican-Russia ties latest sign of growing relationship. 

By Claire Giangravè, Crux, February 6, 2018

Once again art and history are the diplomatic key in the ongoing process to bring the Vatican closer to the Kremlin and the Orthodox Church – and perhaps even bring the pope himself to Russia.

A new exhibit in Moscow, ‘The Romanov and the Holy See: 1613 -1917,’ showcasing never-before-seen documents from the Vatican library and the archives of the Russian Federation, proves that relations between Tsars and popes have deeper and more ancient roots than one might think.

It’s no secret that a papal visit to Russia would be the coronation of the Holy See’s decades-long diplomatic efforts to fully regularize relations and, as the exhibit proves, this hope has been coveted for centuries.