The Sino-Vatican agreement on the appointment of bishops in China appears to have been torn up by the CCP.
New regulations on the appointment of religious leaders by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) omits any mention of the Vatican’s role in approving bishops to the state-run church there, casting doubt over the integrity of the Vatican’s recently renewed accord with China.
English-speaking journals such as National Review, Catholic News Agency and Catholic Arena all report that Order No. 15 of new administrative rules on religion posted by the CCP deals with, among other issues, the appointment of Catholic bishops, and will come into effect on May 1st.
Crucially, the order fails to reference the Vatican’s agreement with China that the pope, according to the Holy See, has the final say in appointments to the church in China.
The 2018 Sino-Vatican agreement, which was renewed in October last year, caused much controversy at the time because the Vatican appeared to turn its back on the underground Catholic Church, which has been in communion with Rome for centuries, in favour of the state-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, despite the protests of many ecclesiastical leaders in the Far East.
The agreement has seen at least two bishops appointed with Rome’s approval, and no “illegitimate ordinations” according to the Vatican.
Translators of the latest administrative orders in China say the planned measures will “create an Orwellian system of surveillance, and strengthen the already strict control on all clergy.”
“The tool is a national data base of the authorized clergy, meaning clergy trained and recognized by the five authorized religions,” BitterWinter.org reports.
“There is a complicated system to enter the data base, but those who are out of it and will claim to be clergy will commit a crime. This includes pastors of the Protestant house churches, Catholic conscientious objectors who reject the Vatican-China deal of 2018 and refuse to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, teachers and clergy at independent mosques and Buddhist and Taoist temples, Jewish rabbis (as Judaism is not one of the five authorized religions), and religious personnel of new religious movements.
“The clergy should prove that they ‘support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and support the socialist system’.”
The translators further substantiate reporting on the issue so far, writing that, “in a slap of the face of the Vatican”, the article dealing with electing bishops through the CCP-run church does not contain any “mention of the Vatican or the Pope, which in theory should appoint the bishops under the Vatican-China deal of 2018, renewed in 2020.”
There are an estimated 12 million Catholics in China, with many remaining hidden in the underground church which traditionally remained loyal to Rome as opposed to Beijing.
Cardinal Zen, one of the most senior Asian clerics to speak out against the Vatican’s agreement with China, warned last year that Pope Francis was being “manipulated” by some of his top advisors.
“I have strong evidence to believe that (Cardinal Pietro) Parolin is manipulating the Holy Father, who always shows so much affection to me when we meet, but never answers my questions,” he claimed.
“When many of my (underground) brothers in despair come to me for advice, I tell them: Don’t criticize those who follow the guideline from Rome. But since the guideline leaves room for objection of conscience, you can quietly retire into the state of catacombs and don’t resist by force to any injustice, you could only suffer more losses.”
This week, China was again accused of perpetrating genocide against its Muslim Uighur population, with Canada becoming the latest country to level the charge at Beijing following Donald Trump’s pronouncement on the matter last year.
More than 1 million Uighurs are reportedly being held in re-education camps, with many experiencing rape and torture, as Gript.ie reported recently: