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Vatican statement suggests China violated agreement over appointment of bishops

Vatican City (CNS) — In an unusual move, the Vatican City State issued a public statement expressing regret and essentially accusing the Chinese government of violating an agreement with the Vatican on the appointment of a Catholic bishop. .

“The Holy See, as auxiliary bishop of Jiangxi, expressed surprise and regret at the news of the ‘inauguration ceremony’ of Bishop Zhong Peng Weijiao of Yujiang” 26, two days after the installation of the bishop.

“In fact, this event did not take place in accordance with the spirit of dialogue that exists between the Vatican and the Chinese side and what was stipulated in the Interim Agreement on the Appointment of Bishops,” it said, first signed in 2018. Agreement renewed in 2020 and renewed in October.

The Vatican statement also said the government “has reportedly come under intense and prolonged pressure from local authorities prior to Bishop Penn’s recognition.” I look forward to hearing from you in due course, and reaffirm my willingness to continue our dialogue on all matters of common concern in a respectful manner.”

“The Holy See noted with surprise and regret the news of the ‘inauguration’ of Bishop Zhong Peng Weijiao of Yujiang as an auxiliary bishop of Jiangxi Province, a ‘diocese not recognized by the Holy See’. .”

Asia News, a Rome-based missionary news agency, reported that Bishop Peng was secretly ordained bishop of Yujiang in 2014 under a papal mandate, leading to his arrest by the country’s Communist Party authorities. He spent his six months in prison, subject to restrictions on his duties after his release.

In late September, Bishop Peng told parish priests that he had resigned as bishop of Yujiang and accepted the government’s plan to combine five parishes, including Yujiang, into one new Jiangxi parish, according to Asia News.

Although the terms of the Vatican-China agreement have not been made public, Vatican officials have said they believe that Catholic bishops are elected by the Catholic community in China and approved by the Pope prior to their ordination and inauguration. He said he outlined the procedure.

In the last four years, only six bishops have been nominated and ordained under the terms of the treaty.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in an interview with Vatican News on Oct. 22 that the outcome of the agreement included the excommunication or irregular status of seven bishops who were ordained with government approval. It also included the lifting of the ban, which the Vatican did not agree to. And he said that “his first six ‘secret’ bishops were also successfully registered and recognized as bishops by the official authorities, thus formalizing their status.”

Many dioceses still have no or very old bishops, but the process continues, he said.

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