Over the past five years, relations between the government of China and the Catholic Church unfortunately have been marked by "misunderstandings, accusations" and new "stumbling blocks" to religious freedom, said the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. "Control over persons and institutions has been honed and sessions of indoctrination and pressure are being turned to with ever greater ease," said Cardinal Fernando Filoni, congregation prefect, in an article published in late October in Tripod, a publication of the Holy Spirit Study Center in Hong Kong.The cardinal, who spent nine years in Hong Kong as a Vatican diplomat monitoring the situation of the church in China, issued a call for dialogue with China's communist government. He asked for the establishment of a high-level, bilateral commission of China and the Holy See, similar to the China-Taiwan commissions that continue to discuss issues of importance even though relations between the two are strained politically. The Catholic community in China, Cardinal Filoni said, does not enjoy the freedom it should and it cannot move toward unity and reconciliation as long as the government appoints bishops unacceptable to the Holy See, pressures other bishops to participate in illicit ordinations and detains bishops who insist on maintaining their ties with the Vatican. The situation also is exacerbated by misunderstandings between what Cardinal Filoni described as the "two currents" of the Catholic Church in China: one basically underground because it "did not accept compromises and political control," and the other existing openly, but accepting government control for what he termed "existential reasons," by which he meant its very existence. —CNS{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/1109/china/{/gallery}