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Cardinal Zen again voices concern about Vatican-Beijing talks

November 28, 2016

Cardinal Joseph Zen has again expressed concern about the prospect of an agreement between the Vatican and China.

The outspoken former Bishop of Hong Kong said that he fears the Vatican, in its anxious desire to reach some accord with Beijing, could make imprudent concessions, sacrificing the independence of the Church in China. “It is impossible to have a perfect agreement,” he conceded, but “an evil one cannot be made.”

Speaking to a conference in Hong Kong on the Rome-Beijing talks, Cardinal Zen said that a rumored proposal, which would allow the Vatican to choose new bishops from among nominees put forward by Beijing, would be disastrous. The Vatican would be constantly on the defensive, under pressure to accept the government’s nominees, he remarked.

However, Cardinal Zen said that there are still possibilities for a good outcome from the current discussions. He suggested, for example, reversing the proposal that has been discussed in the media, so that the Vatican nominates episcopal candidates and the Chinese government approves them. That approach would allow the Pope more flexibility, he said, and would put pressure on the Beijing government to accept the Vatican’s preferred nominees.

Cardinal Zen said that his overall pessimism reflects his belief that Vatican bureaucrats are overly anxious for an agreement with Beijing. He charged that in the past, Vatican officials have weakened the policies set, for example, by Pope Benedict XVI. He disclosed that he would like to speak to Pope Francis about his concerns, but suspected that officials would block him from meeting with the Pontiff.


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