Speed Reads

His Holiness

Chinese group asks Pope Francis not to 'interfere' with the country's religion

Pope Francis has sent messages of good will to China, but the affections may not be returned.

Francis asked China to open new talks between the Vatican and Beijing officials, but China is worried the pope will "interfere" with China's religion.

After visiting South Korea, Pope Francis said he would love to visit China. He also sent two well-wishing telegrams to Chinese President Xi Jinping. "We respect the Chinese people," Francis told reporters during his flight from South Korea. "The church only asks for liberty for its task, for its work." The Vatican hasn't had diplomatic relations with China since 1951, according to Religion News Service, but Francis hopes to change that.

China, however, has been more cautious. The country's Catholic Patriotic Association issued a statement that China "will always safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity," saying that the organization "never allows foreign forces to interfere with religion."