• Tuesday, November 20, 2018

China and Vatican to Sign Landmark Deal Over Bishops

Discussion in 'China & Far East' started by Nan Yang, Sep 15, 2018.

  1. Nan Yang

    Nan Yang SENIOR MEMBER

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    China and Vatican to Sign Landmark Deal Over Bishops

    Under agreement, Beijing would recognize pope as head of China’s Catholics in return for Vatican recognition of excommunicated Chinese bishops



    Pope Francis greets faithful from China as he arrives for his weekly general audience on St. Peter's square in the Vatican on April 18.

    By Francis X. Rocca in Rome and
    Eva Dou in Beijing


    Updated Sept. 14, 2018 12:43 p.m. ET

    China and the Vatican are set to sign a landmark agreement later this month ending a long struggle between Beijing’s Communist rulers and the pope over who controls Catholicism in the world’s most populous country, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    Reactions to the deal, which gives both sides a say in appointing the church’s bishops in China, are likely to be sharply divided, with some hailing a diplomatic coup by the Vatican that draws China closer to the West and others warning of an important defeat for the principle of religious freedom.

    The controversial deal would include the first official recognition by Beijing that the pope is the head of the Catholic Church in China. In return, Pope Francis would formally recognizeseven excommunicated Chinese bishops who were appointed by the Communist government without Vatican approval.

    “It is a baby step by China toward recognizing some of the framework of the Western world,” said Francesco Sisci, an Italian who teaches international relations at China Renmin University in Beijing. “It doesn’t go as far as recognizing what we in the West call religious freedom but it is a degree of religious autonomy.”

    Others, including some U.S. diplomats, are concerned the pope is conceding a strong influence over church leadership to an avowedly atheist authoritarian regime.

    “This is a strange step backward on terrain over which the church has fought, not for centuries but millennia,” said Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert who writes for Italy’s L’Espresso magazine. “The church has managed to free itself from control of sovereigns and governments on ecclesiastical matters such as the naming of bishops, but now this achievement is clamorously contradicted by the agreement with China.”

    The pact with the Vatican could still fall through or be delayed due to unforeseen events, one of the peoplefamiliar with the matter said. The two sides are close to signing even though China’s government has recently intensified a crackdown on Christians and other religious groups, through measures including closing churches and removing religious symbols suchas crosses and the domes of mosques. The deal is thus expected to stir criticism of the pope at a time when he is under fire from within and outside the church for his handling of clerical sexual abuse.

    In practice, China’s Communist Party is unlikely to give up control over any religion, even Catholicism, which has relatively few adherents in China. Chinese President Xi Jinping haslaunched a program to “Sinicize” all religions to make sure they don’t offer alternate viewpoints to the Communist Party. As part of that policy, Beijing is strengthening its sway over clerical appointments and religious teachings to emphasize patriotism.

    The Chinese leadership has been engaged for years in a campaign to diminish the influence of the Dalai Lama, who remains popular among Tibetans despite nearly six decades in exile. It has also ramped up a mass detention program for Muslims in its northwest region of Xinjiang, where Beijing is worried about violent separatism fanned by militant Islam. Giving the Vatican too much say risks setting a bad precedent in Beijing’s eyes.

    The Vatican had hoped to sign the deal in the spring, but needed several more months to overcome resistance from some Chinese Catholics, one of the persons familiar with the matter said. In particular, the bishop of the southeastern diocese of Shantou balked at stepping aside in favor of an excommunicated bishop as part of the agreement, this person said.

    Pope Francis’ pursuit of the deal reflects his desire for better relations with China—where Christianity is growing fast, though most new adherents are Protestants—and for an end to divisions among Catholics there.

    China’s estimated 10 million Catholics are legally supposed to worship only in churches approved by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a state-controlled body not recognized by the Vatican. But many Catholics attend unregistered churches in so-called underground communities led by bishops loyal only to Rome.

    Beijing is eager for the publicity boost that mending ties with the Vatican would bring, even as the Communist Party prosecutes a systematic campaign to bring Catholicism and all other religions more firmly under its control.

    A new agreement would allow the pope to veto new nominees for bishops proposed by the Chinese government. Beijing’s major condition for signing has been that the pope recognize theseven Chinese bishops excommunicated by Rome over the years.

    “The dialogue between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China continues,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said. “There’s nothing else to add at the moment.”

    At a routine Chinese Foreign Ministry press conference on Thursday, spokesman Geng Shuang declined to confirm the deal’s status, but said China was sincere in its efforts for better relations with the Vatican.

    China broke off diplomatic relations with the Vatican in 1951. In recent decades, the two sides have cooperated informally to agree on most bishops appointments, but Beijing has periodically named bishops without the pope’s approval.

    At the last meeting of the negotiating teams, in Rome in June, the Vatican assured the Chinese representatives that Pope Francis would sign the necessary document to lift the excommunications of the seven government-appointed bishops and recognize them as the bishops of their dioceses about a week before the deal is signed, said one of the people familiar with the matter.

    That recognition would require two bishops who have shunned government control, in the dioceses of Shantou and Mindong, to step aside in favor of government-appointed bishops. They would be the first so-called underground bishops to be asked to do so by the Vatican.

    Shantou Bishop Zhuang Jianjian and Mindong Bishop Guo Xijin couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday.

    Also as part of the deal, the government is expected to recognize the “underground” bishop of Qiqihar, near the Russian border, one of the people said. Qiqihar Bishop Wei Jingyi couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

    The agreement is explicitly provisional, meaning that it allows for the possibility of revisions after one or two years if either party sees the need. Both parties have agreed that the text of the agreement won’t be published even after it is signed, one of the people said.

    Critics of the prospective deal have cast it as a capitulation by the Vatican.

    “I would make a cartoon showing the pope kneeling and offering the keys of the kingdom of heaven and saying, ‘Now, please recognize me as pope,’” Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former bishopof Hong Kong, told an interviewer in March. “The advisers of the pope are giving him advice to renounce his authority.”

    The agreement on bishop appointments would leave unresolved other major questions between the Vatican and China, including the position of most of the more than 30 bishops recognized by Rome but not by Beijing. The reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Beijing and the Vatican remains a distant goal.

    —Kersten Zhang contributed to this article.
     
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  2. hiseen

    hiseen FULL MEMBER

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    As far as I am concerned, Catholicism is not a good person, no matter history or now.
     
  3. Jlaw

    Jlaw ELITE MEMBER

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    Stupid commie leaders.
     
  4. TANAHH

    TANAHH FULL MEMBER

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    The spread of Catholicism/Christianity must be carefully managed and controlled in China, otherwise it will breed religious extremism, not less encourage by the West in an attempt to undermine and destroy the Chinese government.
     
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  5. Dai Toruko

    Dai Toruko FULL MEMBER

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    China on course to become world's most Christian nation within 15 years.:whistle:
     
  6. Nan Yang

    Nan Yang SENIOR MEMBER

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    What the China-Vatican Deal Means for Taiwan
    A reported agreement could spell trouble for Taipei — and China’s Catholics.

    By Gary Sands
    September 21, 2018

    Beijing has so far successfully poached three diplomatic allies of the Republic of China (Taiwan) this year – the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, and El Salvador — and some fear Taipei may lose another soon. The Vatican and Beijing are reportedly nearing a deal by the end of this month to reunite China’s Catholics, who are divided between devotion to a state-backed church and an illegal “underground” church that is faithful to Rome.

    The communist government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under Mao Zedong expelled the last Vatican diplomat in 1951, and the Vatican is struggling to return under its own terms. The Vatican has extended diplomatic recognition to the Republic of China since 1942.

    Despite its longstanding support, the Holy See mission to the island was reduced to a “charge d’affaires ad interim” after the UN recognized the PRC in 1971 as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations” and expelled “the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations.” While the Vatican does not have formal diplomatic relations with the PRC, the Holy See has yet to appoint a nuncio, or ambassador, to Taiwan. Taipei does, however, maintain an ambassador to the Vatican, although his presence is listed in Vatican directories under “China.”

    Any retraction of the Vatican’s recognition of Taiwan would be a major win for Beijing.

    The Vatican and China

    Officially an atheist state, China does allow various religions to exist, although each falls under the strict supervision of its State Bureau of Religious Affairs, and religious believers must “be subordinate to and serve the overall interests of the nation and the Chinese people … and support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.”

    For Catholicism, this has meant Catholic bishops must be appointed by the state-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, rather than by the Vatican. This policy has resulted in the Vatican excommunicating seven Chinese bishops who were appointed by Beijing without the approval of the Vatican.

    The upcoming deal is believed to include an agreement on how the Vatican and Beijing appoint future bishops in China. Under the deal, Beijing would recognize Pope Francis as the head of the Catholic Church in China, with the Pope having the final say in the appointment of bishops and the Vatican finally recognizing the seven “illegal” bishops.

    Among the critics of the deal are a group of leading Catholics in Hong Kong and the United States who recently penned an open letter saying they were “deeply shocked and disappointed” by the talks. In their letter, they “urge that any agreement must be grounded in the protection of religious freedom, and an end to religious persecution.”

    Persecution of Religion in China

    Religious freedom in China has most glaringly been called into question by reports out of Xinjiang, a western “autonomous region” of China. Xinjiang is home to the Uyghur ethnic minority, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority group of some 8 million, out of a total 19 million residents in Xinjiang. The region has a long history of violence and unrest, including rioting, knife attacks, and suicide bombings in recent years, often blamed on Uyghur separatists. China’s newly amended Religious Affairs Regulations have only fueled a fresh round of persecution of Muslim Uyghurs, with a UN panel claiming Beijing “has changed the Uyghur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no rights zone.”

    Islam is not the only religion under attack — this month one of the largest “underground” Protestant churches in Beijing was banned, after refusing requests from state authorities to install closed-circuit television cameras in their building. Other churches have been ordered to display the Chinese national flag and a portrait of President Xi Jinping in their main meeting area. Pastors and ministers have also been subject to exams on the Party’s rules on religious affairs and “core socialist values,” and forced to hand out government propaganda on socialist values to their believers. In September, local authorities raided several Protestant churches in Henan province, with one pastor in Nanyang saying the authorities burned the crosses, bibles, and furniture of his church.

    " :disagree: Xinjiang again "

    The Vatican and Taiwan

    Meanwhile, Taiwan is now home to around 300,000 Catholics, or some 2 percent of the island’s population – including its vice president, Chen Chien-jen. The Vatican’s recognition of Taiwan does lend some moral sustenance to Taipei, its independent-minded citizens, and its small population of Catholics. As the text of the impending deal will not be made public, some analysts fear the Holy See recognition of Taiwan could soon be threatened.

    Taipei takes some comfort from its ambassador to the Holy See, Matthew S.M. Lee, who recently stated that high ranking officials in the Vatican have “told us the agreement is aimed at handling Catholic religious affairs in China and carries no political or diplomatic connotations.” And informed sources told America, a Jesuit publication, that the Holy See’s relations with Taiwan were not raised in the present negotiations.

    Nonetheless, should Beijing and the Vatican also reach a diplomatic agreement, the loss of the Vatican as an ally of Taipei would likely be viewed as a bigger defeat than any of the recent defections by Taiwan’s other allies, as the Catholic Church retains some moral authority, despite a series of damaging sexual abuse scandals and cover-ups.

    More importantly, should the Vatican fail to use the full extent of its powers to stop the growing persecution of those who practice religion in China, and fail to maintain its long-standing diplomatic recognition of Taiwan (where religious freedoms abound), the Catholic Church will lose even more moral authority and trust, both of which may prove difficult to recover.

    Gary Sands is a Senior Analyst at Wikistrat, a crowdsourced consultancy, and a Director at Highway West Capital Advisors, a venture capital, project finance and political risk advisory. He is now based in Taipei, Taiwan.

    No need god. CCP is good enough :-)

    ‘China is the best implementer of Catholic social doctrine,’ says Vatican bishop | CatholicHerald.co.uk
    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/new...catholic-social-doctrine-says-vatican-bishop/