URGENT ¥¥¥ China says it hopes new pope will be 'flexible'

China, which has long had strained ties with the Vatican in a dispute about authority over Catholics in the country, said Thursday it hoped newly elected Pope Francis would take a "practical and flexible" attitude.

"We hope that under the leadership of the new pope the Vatican will adopt a practical and flexible attitude and create conditions for the improvement of China-Vatican relations," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.