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China seeks agreement with Vatican on appointment of new bishops

November 21, 2014

The Chinese government has proposed a cooperative arrangement with the Vatican regarding the appointment of Catholic bishops.

The Beijing regime has clashed repeatedly with Rome over the appointment of bishops. The Vatican insists that all bishops must be appointed with a mandate from the Holy See, and has announced the excommunication of Chinese bishops appointed without that mandate.

China, on the other hand, claims that the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association should appoint bishops. In his 2007 letter on the Church in China, Pope Benedict XVI said that the universal Church cannot recognize the authority of a group like the Patriotic Association, which was established to exercise political control over the Church.

In suggesting a joint approach to new episcopal appointments, Chinese officials appear to be hoping to break through an impasse in talks with Rome. Officials said that China would not accept Rome’s demand to disband the Patriotic Association, but might agree to change the organization’s role. Chinese government sources said that they hoped to receive the Vatican’s response to their proposal by early in 2015.

At present Beijing does not recognize Catholic bishops of the “underground” Church loyal to Rome, while the Vatican does not recognize the bishops unilaterally appointed by the Patriotic Association. In practice most Chinese bishops, including those who were appointed by the government-backed body, have quietly sought and received the Vatican’s approval.


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  • Posted by: Defender - Nov. 24, 2014 12:54 AM ET USA

    I find it hard to believe that the pope would be willing to give up the right to appoint bishops of his own choosing and, even more important, that the pope would be willing to forsake those who risk death and imprisonment daily in defending the Faith from a communist government. Pius XII understood this decades ago when he wrote:(the Apostolic Letter Cupimus Imprimis, the Encyclical Ad Sinarum Gentem, and the Encyclical Ad Apostolorum Principis. Things have changed little since.