China Exploits Vatican Weakness on Bishop Nominations

ROME — The Vatican announced this weekend it will accept China’s autonomous appointmen
Claretian Missions

ROME — The Vatican announced this weekend that it will accept China’s autonomous appointment of a Catholic bishop without Church approval.

Flouting its 2018 accord with the Vatican over the nomination of bishops in the country, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced this past April that it had installed Bishop Joseph Shen Bin as the new bishop of Shanghai.

The former (Vatican-named) bishop of Shanghai, Bishop Ma Daqin has been under house arrest since 2012 in Sheshan Seminary in punishment for his resignation from the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

Shen was appointed by the renegade Council of Chinese Bishops, a government-controlled organization of which Shen himself is the head.

At his installation, Shen promised to uphold the CCP’s principles of Chinese Church independence and self-administration and the campaign of “Sinicizing” Catholicism in China.

For its part, the Holy See expressed its surprise over the transfer of Bishop Shen to Shanghai, noting that it had learned of the move “from the media.”

This weekend, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin revealed that Pope Francis has named Shen as Bishop of Shanghai, effectively rubber-stamping retroactively the CCP’s unilateral decision.

The transfer was made “without the involvement of the Holy See,” Cardinal Parolin noted, a move that “does not seem to take into account the spirit of dialogue and collaboration established between the Vatican and the Chinese sides over the years.”

The Holy Father Francis has “decided to remedy the canonical irregularity created in Shanghai, in view of the greater good of the Diocese and the fruitful exercise of the Bishop’s pastoral ministry,” Parolin added. “The Holy Father’s intention is fundamentally pastoral and will allow Archbishop Shen Bin to work with greater serenity to promote evangelization and foster ecclesial communion.”

Reports suggest that Bishop Shen is not well liked in Shanghai and has been accused of demanding large cash donations when ordaining priests in the diocese.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Francis Rocca said that the Vatican’s capitulation constitutes “the latest sign of the pope’s determination to pursue a rapprochement with Beijing despite China’s tightening restrictions on religion.”

As Breitbart News has reported, Francis has been doggedly unwilling to call out China on its egregious, repeated human rights violations for fear of offending Beijing and harming his chances of establishing full diplomatic ties with China.


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