Third Unapproved Bishop Adds Fuel to China-Vatican Rift
Sunday May 14
For the full story, go to Christian Post
BEIJING (AP) – China ‘s state-approved Catholic church welcomed the installation Sunday of a third bishop who has not been approved by the pope, exacerbating Beijing ‘s already strained relations with the Vatican .
In recent weeks, China ‘s state-approved Catholic hierarchy appointed two other bishops without papal assent, drawing a threat of excommunication from the Vatican and re-aggravating the split.
The Vatican declined to comment on Zhan’s installation.
After coming to power in 1949, the communists set up a state-backed Catholic church outside the Vatican ‘s authority, forcing Catholics to divide their loyalties. While some of China ‘s estimated 10 million to 14 million Catholics shun the state-approved churches and others dislike the “underground” ones, most Catholics and clergy circulate between both worlds.
Zhan’s situation underscores the stakes for Beijing and the Vatican . The Mindong Diocese, in the southern province of Fujian , has over 60,000 Catholics, but only 10,000 worship in state-authorized churches, according to Catholic Church estimates in Hong Kong .
That has led to parallel church structures, one serving the independent or underground Catholics, the other serving the Beijing-approved church. The larger community of independent Catholics already has a bishop, an elderly cleric, Huang Shoucheng, approved by the Vatican in August, the Hong Kong church official said.
Most bishops in China have quietly received papal approval, often before their appointments, through behind-the-scenes consultations between Chinese churches and the Vatican .
Charles Hutzler AP