(Rome / Beijing) Vatican spokesman Greg Burke indirectly confirmed the Vatican operation in the People's Republic of China to force legitimate, faithful bishops to resign, giving way to schismatic, bishops.
Last September, for the first time since the Communist takeover in 1949, a bilateral agreement was signed between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China, but its contents are kept secret by both sides. As the Global Times confirmed, this is about episcopal appointments.
In 1958, the Communist regime established its own religiously dependent Catholic Church, independent from Rome, the so-called "Patriotic Association," and has since appointed its own bishops without the consent of Rome. These bishops were excommunicated from Rome.
Simultaneously with the signing of the secret agreement, Pope Francis lifted the excommunication of these bishops and recognized them as legitimate bishops. The agreement also appears to require that these bishops be appointed and recognized as diocesan bishops by Rome. Since autumn 2017, it is known that the Vatican is urging two faithful bishops to resign to make way for bishops excommunicated so far.
Last week, as the newspaper reported, a Vatican delegation was in the "Middle Kingdom" to hold "talks on the implementation of an agreement on the appointment of bishops."These," said a spokesman for the Holy See, "talks were conducted with both government and church representatives."
The spokesperson, according to the article, was Vatican spokesman Greg Burke, who was contacted by the Chinese newspaper last Friday.
The newspaper also quoted Wang Meixiu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences as saying that the talks were about filling vacant episcopal chairs.
The "new model"
The Global Times also confirmed that a bishop appointed by the regime is being used by the Vatican as a legitimate diocesan bishop. Underground Bishop Guo Xijin of Mindong accepted the papal call to resign last Friday. He is replaced by the regime's Bishop Zhan Silu.
Bishop Guo Xijin was a dialogue partner of the Vatican delegation. He will be, as the Vatican wishes, auxiliary bishop of Bishop Silu in his former diocese. He confirmed this to Global Times after the meeting with the delegation from the Vatican.
Global Times presented the unusual resignation and role reversal as a "normal castling," which goes back to "practical", ecclesiastical "necessities."
There is talk of a "new model" that, if accepted by both sides "with good will", could be established with regard to episcopal nominations. Should that translate to mean that the diocesan bishops in future come from the Patriotic Association and the auxiliary bishops from the Underground Church?
Global Times concludes:
"The Press Office of the Holy See did not respond to questions as to whether the delegation's mission also included discussions on the establishment of diplomatic relations or a possible visit by Pope Francis to China."
Cardinal Zen: "Unacceptable, so I'll be silent from now on"
Meanwhile, Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus bishop of Hong Kong and gray eminence of the Chinese Underground Church, commented on recent events. He was disappointed with the monthly Tempi that Rome forces legitimate and faithful bishops to resign to establish bishops who have been unfaithful and have turned away from Rome.
"I have told these two bishops that they should not resign voluntarily so as not to cooperate with evil. But I have also advised them to obey if the Pope orders it, because a pope's command must always be obeyed."At the beginning of the year, Cardinal Zen experienced the great defeat when it became clear that Pope Francis is against all warnings, for the agreement with Beijing (see also "The problem is who sits in the cage" ). Because of this disappointment, the cardinal reasons, since it is impossible for him because of his office and as a Catholic, to criticize the Pope, he will at last to retire to a monastery and to keep silent.
He said to Tempi :
"There is the problem of the seven bishops excommunicated and pardoned by Francis. So far none of them has been placed at the head of a diocese. If this happens, I will be silent for ever, because that would be unacceptable and would force me to decide to rebel against the Pope or to remain silent. I will be silent."Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Global Times / Wikicommons (Screenshots)
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org