Beijing Rejects Bishops Deal


    The Vatican has expressed “surprise and regret” over China's unilateral decision to degrade and move the position of a Catholic bishop, without the blessing by Pope Francis.

    “The Holy See noted with surprise and regret the news of the ‘installation ceremony,' which took place on 24 of this month in Nanchang, of John Peng Weizhao, Bishop of Yujiang (Jiangxi Province), as ‘Auxiliary Bishop of Jiangxi,' a diocese not recognized by the Holy See,” the Vatican announced in a statement on Saturday.

    Bishop Peng Weizhao of the Chinese underground church was named to the position by Pope Francis in 2014 and secretly ordained as the bishop of Yujiang and was detained in a house for six months, imposed by local authorities. The unapproved move of his auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Jiangxi effectively amounts to the demotion of a bishop to a second function in a diocese that is not acknowledged by Rome.

    The Vatican message continues to say that the incident didn't occur “in accordance with the spirit of dialogue” that exists among the Vatican and Chinese authorities, and in accordance with what was defined in the 2018 agreement provisional with the Vatican as well as China's Chinese Communist Party (CCP) concerning the naming of bishops; although it's not a secret agreement does require papal approval for any appointment to the episcopal office.

    “Moreover, the civil recognition of Bishop Peng was preceded, according to reports, by long and heavy pressure from the local authorities,” it says.



    According to AsiaNews, the official press agent from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions the ceremony for the installation of the Bishop Peng Weizhao was presided over by Bishop John Baptist Li Suguang who is vice-president for the Chinese Catholic Bishops' Council. It is an organization that is not acknowledged in the eyes of the Holy See.

    AsiaNews further reported it was possible that Bishop Peng “probably came under tremendous pressure” to accept a new position as an auxiliary bishop. Bishop Peng informed his congregation on the 22nd of September that he was stepping down as the bishop of Yujiang and had accepted the government's plan to combine all the dioceses in Nanchang into one the diocese of Jiangxi.

    China Catholic, the “Catholic” website controlled by the CCP, has said the bishop Peng has made a vow to “adhere to the principle of independence and self-management of the Church, adhere to the direction of Sinicization of Catholicism in our country, [and] actively guide Catholicism to adapt to socialist society.”

    Despite Vatican displeasure with the incident, the communique on Saturday concludes with an apparent inability to take a firm decision on the matter. It is interpreted as “You've been very naughty. Please do not repeat this.”

    “The Holy See hopes that similar episodes will not be repeated,” the communiqué declares “awaits appropriate communications on the part of the Authorities, and reaffirms its full readiness to continue respectful dialogue concerning all questions of common interest.”


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