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ICC Note: Fifteen Chinese bishops cancelled their trip to Belgium for a forum on the Pastoral Directory for Bishops discussion because the event collide with the 19th National Party Congress. The host, Verbiest Institute at Leuven University already started negotiations in order to reschedule the Belgium event. A church source suspected that the cancellation might have to do with possible participation of one underground church priest who’s not recognized by the state.

09/27/2017 China (UCA News) – Fifteen Chinese bishops have cancelled a trip to Belgium to take part in a pastoral forum next month, saying it was “not convenient” as the dates clashed with the 19th National Communist Congress.

Father Jeroom Heyndrickx, former director and founder of the Verbiest Foundation, said the trip to attend the Verbiest Institute at Leuven University from Oct. 15-19 was cancelled at the request of the bishops.

He said the reason given was that the bishops were supposed to attend the week-long National Communist Congress in Beijing which starts on Oct. 18.

“From an independent and well-formed source, they learned that bishops would not be allowed to go aboard during that time,” Father Heyndrickx said.

Father Heyndrickx said negotiations were already under way to reschedule the event, with the same agreed-upon list of bishops participating.

The Verbiest Institute issued a press release on Sept. 8, saying the trip had been approved after negotiations with the Chinese government on the forum to discuss the Pastoral Directory for Bishops published by the Holy See.

“This was agreed upon, as well as the list of 15 bishops to participate in the session. The 15 bishops are all legal,” said Father Heyndrickx.

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