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Cardinal Zen has concerns over Vatican, China deal

Retired Hong Kong bishop says allowing Beijing to pick bishops could be problematic for pope

Cardinal Zen has concerns over Vatican, China deal

Cardinal Joseph Zen has concerns about a possible deal between the Vatican and China over the appointment of bishops. (Photo by Daniel Sorabji/AFP)

February 21, 2017

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The retired Hong Kong bishop has expressed serious concerns about a possible agreement between the Vatican and China on appointing bishops.

The agreement would essentially allow the government to pick candidates for bishops and put pressure on the Pope to veto them.

"Because how can you allow the initiative of selection of bishops in the hands of an atheistic government and totalitarian government? I want it to start from the Holy See," Cardinal Joseph Zen said.

Cardinal Zen was speaking to the Catholic News Agency (CNA) of a possible agreement between the Vatican and Beijing on the ordination of bishops there. The current Archbishop of Hong Kong has expressed hope it will come about.  

Currently, Cardinal Zen explained, "the Vatican approves certain names of people" as candidates and the government does "pay attention" to these names, approving some of them.

"The Chinese government accepts this compromise instead of having more problems," he said.

In the new proposal, however, the clergy would elect episcopal candidates, with the pope having the final say of accepting or vetoing candidates.

The problem, Cardinal Zen insisted, is that the government will inevitably meddle in the clergy's election. "There is no real election in China," he told CNA.

The pressure would then be put on the pope if he must repeatedly veto government-appointed candidates.

Hong Kong's current bishop, Cardinal John Tong Hon, has defended the new proposal, noting that China government must now recognize the pope as the supreme head of the church and insisting that the final authority on appointing bishops rests with him.

"I would prefer the other way around," Cardinal Zen insisted. The government has not shown promise that it would accommodate the Vatican's past concerns, but rather has proven that it wants control over the church in China.


Full Story: How the possible Vatican-China agreement could be problematic

Source: Catholic News Agency


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