Critics are speaking out against the Vatican’s ongoing efforts to force two Chinese bishops to retire so that they can be replaced by church leaders approved by the Communist government, which has been persecuting Christians across the country.
As AsiaNews reported on Monday, Bishop Peter Zhuang of Shantou and Bishop Jospeh Guo Xijin of Mindong have been asked to step aside so that the Communist-backed Bishop Huang Bingzhang can come into power.
Bingzhang was excommunicated by the Catholic Church in 2011 when he accepted illicit episcopal ordination without the pope’s approval, and has been a long-time member of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament.
Catholic News Agency points out that the Vatican has been attempting to re-establish relations with the Chinese government, which is leading it to side with clergy appointed by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. The association is backed by the government.
Underground Catholics, however, along with church pastors from other denominations, have for years faced a crackdown at the hands of Chinese authorities, with hundreds of worshipers and church leaders arrested.
Shantou, who is recognized by the Vatican, was asked to retire by the Holy See back in December, but has so far refused to do so.
A source told AsiaNews that the Vatican has been trying to offer a consolation by allowing Shantou to nominate three priests for Huang to choose a vicar general from.
“Bishop Zhuang could not help his tears on hearing the demand,” the source explained, adding that “it was meaningless to appoint a vicar general, who is still a priest that Bishop Huang could remove him anytime.”
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Source: Christian Post