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Chinese underground bishops 'cannot be recognized'

Former senior CPA official dismisses Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong's comments on China, Vatican talks

Chinese underground bishops 'cannot be recognized'

A former Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association official has rejected cardinal Tong Hon of Hong Kong’s comments about a Vatican, Beijing agreement on the appointment of bishops appearing imminent. (Photo by Andreas Solaro/AFP

February 16, 2017

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A former senior official in the government-backed organisation that oversees the Catholic church in China has cautioned that the Beijing regime has not reached an agreement with the Vatican on the appointment of bishops, and dismissed any possibility that bishops of the "underground" Church will be recognized by the government.

According to a report by Catholic Culture.org, Liu Bonian, the former vice-president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), told the South China Morning Post that "underground" bishops (who have been recognized by the Holy See but not by the government) are "unfit for the [Communist] Party to work with."

Liu Bainian was reacting to an article in which Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong had said that an agreement on the appointment of bishops appeared imminent. Cardinal Tong had speculated that the Vatican would eventually recognize the bishops who have been appointed by the government, and the government in turn would recognize the "underground" bishops.

Cardinal Tong had also suggested that the CPA, which now claims authority over the Catholic Church in China, could be transformed into a voluntary organization. Liu Bainian scoffed at that idea. "There's no such proposal being heard on the mainland yet," he said.

The Chinese official said that an agreement regarding the appointment of bishops has not yet been reached, and will be determined by "the future of dialogue between China and the Vatican."

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