Chi­nese priests ex­press con­cern over Vat­i­can’s ‘deal with the devil’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SE­CRET talks be­tween the Vat­i­can and Bei­jing are rais­ing hopes of a “historic” rap­proche­ment af­ter six decades of es­trange­ment, but some Chi­nese clergy fear that Rome will ac­cept a Com­mu­nist stran­gle­hold over the coun­try’s Catholics.

Since be­com­ing head of the Holy See in 2013 Pope Fran­cis has tried to im­prove re­la­tions with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment in the hope of re­con­nect­ing with Catholics in China who are di­vided be­tween two de­nom­i­na­tions, loyal to ei­ther Rome or Bei­jing.

But op­po­nents – among them the re­spected Hong Kong Car­di­nal Joseph Zen – say the agree­ment risks aban­don­ing be­liev­ers and amounts to a deal with the devil.

Since Jan­uary, Chi­nese and Vat­i­can of­fi­cials have met at least four times, in­clud­ing in Rome, to try and re­solve the del­i­cate is­sue of the ap­point­ment of bish­ops – the heart of the dis­pute.

Each side has long in­sisted that it should have the fi­nal say – the Vat­i­can as God’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive on Earth, and the Com­mu­nist Party as the fi­nal ar­biter on all is­sues in China.

“We’re hop­ing for a very im­por­tant, historic agree­ment that we’ve been wait­ing for for nearly 70 years,” said Je­room Heyn­drickx, a Bel­gian priest who has been in­volved with Chi­nese Catholics since the 1950s.

“A Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion will head to Rome this month for a last round of ne­go­ti­a­tions,” he said.

China and the Vat­i­can have not had diplo­matic re­la­tions since 1951. The coun­try’s roughly 12 mil­lion Catholics are di­vided be­tween the gov­ern­ment-run Chi­nese Pa­tri­otic Catholic As­so­ci­a­tion (CPCA), whose clergy are cho­sen by the Com­mu­nist Party, and an un­of­fi­cial church where bish­ops named by the Vat­i­can are not recog­nised by Bei­jing.

The agree­ment is ex­pected to see the Vat­i­can recog­nise four out of the eight CPCA bish­ops it does not cur­rently ac­knowl­edge, ac­cord­ing to Fa­ther Heyn­drickx.

Bei­jing could also name two new bish­ops in Shanxi and Sichuan prov­inces with Rome’s bless­ing. The two would also agree on how to select fu­ture bish­ops. –

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.