Bishop approved by pope ordained in China in apparent thaw in relations

Bishop approved by pope ordained in China in apparent thaw in relations
Bishop approved by pope ordained in China in apparent thaw in relations

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - The Vatican said Rev. Taddeo Wang Yuessheng, 58, was ordained as bishop for the diocese of Zhengzhou, in the central province of Henan, and appointed by the pope. — Vatican Media handout via Reuters

VATICAN CITY, Jan 25 — A bishop appointed by Pope Francis was installed in a diocese in China today, the Vatican said, in an apparent thaw in relations following friction when government-backed bishops were named without papal permission.

The Vatican said Rev. Taddeo Wang Yuessheng, 58, was ordained as bishop for the diocese of Zhengzhou, in the central province of Henan.

A statement said he was appointed by the pope “in the framework” of a landmark 2018 accord between Beijing and the Vatican on the naming of bishops.

The tenuous accord, whose contents are still secret, gives the pope the final say over the appointment of bishops after local consultations.

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But twice in the past two years, the Vatican has accused China of violating the accord by making unilateral decisions on the appointment or transfer of bishops in China without consultation stipulated in the 2018 agreement.

Conservative Catholics have criticised the accord as a sellout to communist China, but the Vatican has defended it as an imperfect means to have some form of dialogue with the authorities for the good of all Chinese Catholics.

The 2018 pact was a bid to ease a longstanding divide across mainland China between an underground flock loyal to the pope and a state-backed official church. For the first time since the 1950s, both sides recognised the pope as supreme leader of the Catholic Church. It has been renewed twice since 2018.

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Beijing has been following a policy of “Sinicisation” of religion, trying to root out foreign influences and enforce obedience to the Communist Party. There are an estimated 10 to 12 million Catholics in China.

Last November, the state-backed bishop of Beijing, who took office before the 2018 accord, visited Hong Kong amid fears among some Catholics that Beijing wanted to tighten control over religious affairs in Hong Kong, which has about 600,000 Catholics.

It was the first trip by a mainland Chinese bishop since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997 and followed a landmark visit to the Chinese capital by his Hong Kong counterpart in April. — Reuters

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