Pope Francis, in an attempt to reach out to areas that have been hostile to Catholicism, used his first foreign policy address to address the world of Islam and atheistic nations. He said he felt it to be vital to strengthen communications with other religions, “particularly dialogue with Islam” and atheists. China, for example, has millions of Catholics who must keep their religion a secret, but the nation has no diplomatic relations with the Vatican, There has been a dispute over who gets to name Catholic bishops from China: China wants to reserve that right in order to establish relations with the Vatican but the Vatican insists that only the Pope can name bishops. China has said that establishing relations between China and the Vatican is also dependent on the Vatican cutting of Taiwan.
Francis wants to be more conciliatory with the Islamic world; his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI caused outrage in 2006 when he used a quoted from a Byzantine emperor asserting that some of the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings were “evil and inhuman.” And when Benedict logically called for the Christians in Egypt to be ensured their safety, the Al-Azhar institute, considered the most important bastion of Islamic learning among Sunni Muslims, cut off communications with the Vatican. Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with the Vatican.