Wandering China

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Vatican in new clash with China over church [Bloomberg/AP]


Vatican in new clash with China over church
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON
The Associated Press
Source – Bloomberg, published December 18, 2010

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican accused China on Friday of spurning efforts for improved ties with the Holy See, condemning the government-backed church as violating religious freedom and human rights.

Pope Benedict XVI’s outreach to China has been answered by “unacceptable and hostile acts,” the Vatican said in an unusually strong statement that accused Beijing of unilaterally damaging “the climate of trust that had been established.”

The Vatican statement had been expected following last week’s election of senior members of China’s government-backed church that included a prelate unrecognized by the Vatican to head its bishop’s council.

Communist China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951. Only state-backed churches are recognized, although millions of Chinese belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome.

Despite the lack of formal relations, the two sides have in recent years agreed on the nomination of bishops acceptable to both Beijing and Rome.

The Vatican says only it has the right to name bishops anywhere in the world, a stance the Chinese have long held as a major obstacle to a formal restoration of relations.

Bishop Ma Yinglin, whose ordination in 2006 was not recognized by the Vatican, was chosen as head of the bishops’ conference of the government-backed church. He reportedly was seen in Rome as too close to the Chinese church’s leadership.

Friday’s statement also expressed Vatican anger that many bishops and priests were allegedly forced to take part in the leadership assembly.

“The persistent desire to control the most intimate area of citizens’ lives, namely their conscience, and to interfere in the internal life of the Catholic church does no credit to China,” the Vatican said.

“On the contrary, it seems to be a sign of fear and weakness rather than of strength,” the Vatican said.

Until recently, there have been talks over bishop nominations, and the Vatican has suggested it is prepared to move its diplomatic representation to Beijing once an agreement had been reached.

The statement Friday said the Vatican reaffirms its wish to speak honestly but that a climate of mutual trust is needed to overcome their differences.

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Filed under: AP, Beijing Consensus, Bloomberg, China Trip 2010, Influence, International Relations, People, Population, Reform, Religion, Social

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