Expert says religious freedom critical for Vatican-China bishop deal

Catholic News Agency | 2/14/2018 | Staff
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Rome, Italy, Feb 14, 2018 / 11:06 am (CNA).- A missionary priest and expert on the Church in China has expressed cautioun, and a limited optimism, about a rumored agreement between China and the Vatican on the appointment of bishops.

Fr. Bernard Cervellera is the editor-in-chief of Asia News, a media project of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, PIME.

Interview - CNA - Accord - Freedom - Catholics

In an interview with CNA, he said that an accord could lead to greater freedom for Catholics in the Communist country, though he questioned the Chinese communist party's intentions, asking whether true religious freedom is possible under a regime that so far has sought to eradicate religion.

The priest stressed that if an agreement is reached, the Vatican will need to push “for more religious freedom.”

Church - Freedom

“You can't simply deliver the Church, but there must also be more religious freedom,” he said.

Asia News covers the Church in China closely, and reported the news that in October 2017 a Holy See delegation went to China asking two bishops – Peter Zhuang Jianjian of Shantou in and Bishop Joseph Guo Xijin of Mindong– to step down in favor of government-appointed bishops.

Beijing - Ties - Vatican - Appointments - Government

In 1951 Beijing broke official diplomatic ties with the Vatican. Since the 1980s they have loosely cooperated in episcopal appointments, however, the government has also named bishops without Vatican approval.

The result has been an increasingly complicated and tense relationship between the government-supported Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the so-called “underground Church,” which includes priests and bishops who are not recognized by the government.

Catholics - Parishioners - Priests - Bishops - Government

Many Catholics parishioners, priests and bishops who have rejected government control have been imprisoned, harassed and otherwise persecuted. Churches have also been destroyed by the Chinese government.

Currently every bishop recognized by Beijing must be a member of the patriotic association, and many bishops appointed by the Vatican who are not recognized or approved by...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Catholic News Agency
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