Beijing offers Vatican joint bishop review

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2014-11-21 0:43:01

But patriotic association remains: analysts

China has reportedly proposed to review appointments of bishops jointly with the Vatican.

The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) said it hopes to receive the Vatican's reply by the start of 2015, the Hong Kong-based newspaper Wen Wei Po quoted an anonymous source close to the negotiations as saying.

"The Vatican seems to hope for more agreements beyond bishop ordination, such as cancelling the CCPA. But that doesn't appear likely," the source said.

Shen Guiping, a religious studies expert at the Central Institute of Socialism, said that China would not dismiss the CCPA only to please the Vatican. But the role of the CCPA may be changed in order to better serve Catholics in China, he said. "For example, the CCPA may strengthen its role as an independent group to bridge the gap between authorities and church members."

"The CCPA is a result of Catholic development in China and a historic legacy. Removing the CCPA should not be made a prerequisite to establishing diplomatic ties," Yan Kejia, the director of the Institute of Religious Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The CCPA could not be reached for comment as of press time.

China severed diplomatic relations with the Vatican in the 1950s and bishop ordination as well as the CCPA's authority has always been controversial between the two sides.

China said it has the sole authority to appoint bishops, while the Vatican's stand is that bishops can only be appointed by the Pope.

According to the source, future bishop candidates in China may be selected in each parish and reported to the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) and the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), who will contact the Vatican for consecration if consensus could be reached between the two sides.

While the Vatican recognizes most of the members of the BCCCC as bishops, it does not accept the body's validity.

Another plan involves two candidates from each parish and the BCCCC shall offer references when recommending candidates to the Vatican, who will then consecrate the bishop.

"China has demonstrated great restraint and sincerity in considering the Vatican's side," the source said, adding that several bishop candidates in Shanxi, Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces have been selected but have yet to be consecrated.

"The agreement could be seen as a positive step towards normalizing diplomatic ties, but prudence is required instead of jumping to a conclusion on diplomatic relations," Yan noted.

Posted in: Diplomacy

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