Vatican Lashes Out at China Over Bishop’s Appointment
Posted by Author on November 24, 2010
By STACY MEICHTRY, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 2010 –
The Vatican lashed out at China Wednesday for consecrating a bishop without Pope Benedict XVI’s approval, ratcheting up tensions between the world’s most populous nation and its largest church.
In an unusually strong-worded statement, the Holy See accused the Chinese government of forcing other Catholic bishops to attend a ceremony on Saturday, in which the Rev. Joseph Guo Jincai was consecrated as the bishop of Chengde located in the eastern province of Hebei. The Vatican said it had warned Chinese authorities that it opposed Bishop Guo’s consecration, noting that the bishop was “exposing himself” to church sanctions that call for the excommunication of bishops who don’t have papal approval.
“This ordination not only does not contribute to the good of the Catholics of Chengde, but places them in a very delicate and difficult condition … and humiliates them,” the Vatican statement said, adding that the pope “received the news with deep regret.”
The statement marks the latest escalation in a long-running war of words between Beijing and the Holy See. Ever since Beijing severed diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1951, an underground church of an estimated eight million Chinese Catholics loyal to the pope has operated in the shadows.
Beijing frequently cracks down on members of the underground church, detaining its top clerics. It has also built a government-sanctioned church of an estimated five million followers whose leadership answers to China’s communist leadership rather than the pope.
Over the years, Beijing has dismissed the Holy See’s objections as an attempt by a foreign head of state, the pope, to meddle in China’s internal affairs. A spokesman for China’s ambassador to Italy didn’t return calls Wednesday.
Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the government’s Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said he believed the pope cared for Chinese Catholics and didn’t think the excommunication would be formalized, according to the Associated Press.
“There are so many followers in China. I believe the pope loves China, he won’t make such a decision,” the AP quoted Mr. Liu as saying.
In recent years, there have been tentative steps toward rapprochement between the two sides, with Pope Benedict XVI tacitly approving bishops from a list of candidates proposed by Beijing. The attempts at cooperation, however, haven’t kept up with the demand for new bishops as aging prelates die and the number of China’s Catholics rises in step with economic growth.
As a result, Beijing has at times decided to move unilaterally, appointing its own bishops without seeking the pope’s imprimatur. The Holy See sees the appointments an attempt to divide the pontiff’s 1.2 billion-strong flock.
In its statement, the Vatican described the bishop’s consecration over the weekend as a “painful wound” to the Church. The appointment was also a “grave violation of Catholic discipline” and a violation of “freedom of religion and conscious,” the statement said. The Vatican in addition accused Beijing of deploying “pressures” to force Catholic bishops to attend Bishop Guo’s consecration ceremony.
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This entry was posted on November 24, 2010 at 6:39 pm and is filed under Catholicism, China, Hebei, Human Rights, News, North China, People, Politics, Religion, Religious, Social, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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