China–Holy See relations

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People's Republic of China-Vatican relations
Map indicating locations of China and Vatican City

China

Vatican City

There have been no official People's Republic of China – Holy See relations as the Holy See instead recognizes the Republic of China as the representative of China.

However, in September 2018 the People's Republic of China and the Holy See signed an agreement allowing the Pope to appoint and veto bishops approved by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The agreement was renewed for another two years in October 2020.[1]

History[edit]

The Beijing government broke off diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1951 after a complicated incident. Throughout 1950 and 1951, the People's Republic of China had been putting pressure on the Vatican by threatening a breakaway of "independent Catholics", but many priests opposed the movement, and Zhou Enlai sought a middle ground.[2] A deadly controversy was then manufactured: a priest working at the Holy See internunciature (legation) had thrown out an old 1930s-era mortar in a trash pile out of his home. A businessman named Antonio Riva discovered the mortar and took a non-functioning piece of it back to his house to display as an antique. When Communist officials saw Riva's curio in his home, they arrested him for conspiracy to assassinate Mao Zedong, which Riva denied. Riva was executed and the Holy See's diplomatic mission was banished from the country for "espionage".[3] Tarcisio Martina, the regional apostolic prefect, was sentenced to life in prison[4] and died in 1961, while four other "conspirators" were given shorter sentences.[5]

The Beijing government has set two conditions for reestablishing the relations: that the Holy See "not interfere in religious matters in China" and that, in line with Beijing's One-China policy, it break the ties with the Taipei government. Such ties were established after the expulsion of Archbishop Riberi, and have been maintained at the level of chargé d'affaires ever since the United Nations' recognition of the Beijing government as the government of China.[6] The Holy See has indicated that it would have no difficulty about the second condition, but requires discussion about the concrete meaning of the first.[7] The main point of contention concerns the appointing of Catholic bishops in mainland China, who are now named by the Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), at some periods in agreement with the Holy See, at other times in direct opposition to its declared wishes. The PRC government's position is that bishops should be appointed by itself; the Holy See's position is that bishops can only be appointed by the Pope,[8] while envisaging in some cases a form of consultation with the civil authorities.[9]

2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics[edit]

The Holy See made efforts in 2007 to create formal ties with the PRC.[10] Theodore McCarrick had been an envoy as part of such efforts.[11] High-ranking bishops in the Roman Catholic Church implied that such a diplomatic move was possible,[12] predicated on the PRC granting more freedom of religion[13] and interfering less in the hierarchy of the church in mainland China.[14]

In September 2007, the appointment of Father Joseph Li Shan by the PRC authorities was said to be "tacitly approved" by the Vatican.[15] In May 2008, the China Philharmonic Orchestra from mainland China performed a concert for the Pope inside the Vatican, prompting analysts to speak of a "growing rapprochement" between the two countries.[16] On 8 April 2011 the Financial Times reported that Baron Von Pfetten organised the first major breakthrough discussion at leadership level during a three days closed door seminar in his French château where a senior Chinese visiting delegation met with Monseigneur Balestrero the Holy See Undersecretary for Relations with States.[17] Francis, Pope since March 2013, said in a news media interview that he wished to visit China and improve the China-Holy See relationship.[18] It was also reported that on a Papal visit to South Korea in August 2014 China opened up its airspace to the Pope's plane, and while crossing the Chinese airspace the Pope sent a telegram expressing his "best wishes" to the Chinese people.[19]

2018 Holy See–China Agreement[edit]

In January 2018, the Church was close to negotiating a deal with China that allows China to have more control over the underground churches and allows the Vatican to have more control over the appointment of bishops. While this did not amount to the establishment of formal diplomatic ties, this was seen as a huge step towards formal recognition.[20] However, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the former Bishop of Hong Kong, regarded the warming of diplomatic relationships as selling out the Catholic Church in China, as the process involves the resignation of several bishops of the underground church.[21][22] A vigil was held by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese in response from 12 to 13 February in St Bonaventure Church.[23]

On 22 September 2018, the Chinese government and the Vatican signed a historic agreement concerning the appointment of bishops in China.[24] China's foreign ministry said that the agreement works to maintain communications and improve relations between the parties.[24] They did not establish diplomatic relations and the Vatican maintained diplomatic ties with the Republic of China on Taiwan,[25] which the People's Republic of China does not recognize. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke described the agreement as "not political but pastoral, allowing the faithful to have bishops who are in communion with Rome but at the same time recognized by Chinese authorities."[24][26] While the agreement states that China will recommend bishops before they are appointed by the pope,[26] it also stipulates that the pope has authority to veto a bishop China recommends.[27] Francis then approved seven bishops who had been appointed by Beijing, after withdrawing Church censures against those six and one recently deceased bishop, who had all received episcopal consecration without papal approval.[28][29] On 23 September, the Catholic Church in China pledged to remain loyal to the Chinese Communist Party.[30] On 26 September, in a letter to Chinese Catholics, Pope Francis wrote:[31]

On the civil and political level, Chinese Catholics must be good citizens, loving their homeland and serving their country with diligence and honesty, to the best of their ability. On the ethical level, they should be aware that many of their fellow citizens expect from them a greater commitment to the service of the common good and the harmonious growth of society as a whole. In particular, Catholics ought to make a prophetic and constructive contribution born of their faith in the kingdom of God. At times, this may also require of them the effort to offer a word of criticism, not out of sterile opposition, but for the sake of building a society that is more just, humane and respectful of the dignity of each person.

The agreement reflects the long-standing desire of the Chinese government to end the Holy See's recognition of the government in Taiwan, even as the Chinese Communist Party of General Secretary Xi Jinping continues the campaign, launched in the spring of 2018, to increase control of foreign religious institutions.[32][dubious ] In October 2018, local Chinese government officials destroyed two Marian shrines, one in Shanxi and one in Guizhou.[33]

While some have raised concerns that China was no longer enforcing the terms of the 2018 agreement,[34] both parties extended the agreement in October 2020 for two more years.[35] In July 2022, Pope Francis stated that he hoped the Provisional Agreement would be renewed in October 2022, describing the agreement as "moving well." As of July 2022, seven bishops before 2018 were brought into communion with the Vatican and only six new bishops have been appointed under the 2018 agreement.[36]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Holy See and China renew Provisional Agreement for 2 years". Vatican News. 2020. Archived from the original on 17 November 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  2. ^ "Religion: Catholics in China". Time. 2 July 1951. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Religion: Prayer for China". Time. 17 September 1951. Archived from the original on 9 August 2014.
  4. ^ Dikötter, Frank (2013). The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 117. ISBN 978-1620403471.
  5. ^ Bertuccioli, Giuliano (1999). "Informatori, avventurieri, spioni, agenti più o meno autentici in duemila anni di storia delle relazioni italo-cinesi" (in Italian). Mondo Cinese 101. Archived from the original on 20 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2012. English translation at Google Translate
  6. ^ "China: the Vatican denounces the arrest of bishop, priest and layperson". AsiaNews. 4 February 2005. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Taiwan "Religious Freedom The Key To Beijing-Holy See Ties"". Union of Catholic Asian News. 22 July 2004. Archived from the original on 29 May 2009.
  8. ^ Reynolds, James (9 May 2008). "China-Vatican relations". BBC News. Archived from the original on 4 October 2014.
  9. ^ (in Italian) The 1966 Agreement with Argentina provides an example of how national governments are, by exception, sometimes consulted prior to the appointment of bishops. "Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Argentina". Vatican.va. 10 October 1966. Archived from the original on 2 April 2014. English translation at Google Translate
  10. ^ "Pope offers olive branch to China". BBC News. 20 January 2007. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
  11. ^ Mares, Courtney (17 September 2018). "Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations". Catholic News Agency. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  12. ^ "HK bishop hints at Vatican switch". BBC News. 5 April 2005. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
  13. ^ "China welcomes Vatican initiative". BBC News. 22 January 2007. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
  14. ^ "China ordains new Catholic bishop". BBC News. 30 November 2006. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
  15. ^ "China installs Pope-backed bishop". BBC News. 21 September 2007. Archived from the original on 15 August 2014.
  16. ^ Willey, David (7 May 2008). "Chinese orchestra plays for Pope". BBC News. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008.
  17. ^ Dinmore, Guy (8 April 2011). "China and Vatican break ice in Burgundy". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 23 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Pope Francis wants to visit mainland China". ANSA. 28 September 2015. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  19. ^ Ball, Deborah (14 August 2014). "Pope Francis Sends Message to China in Telegram From Papal Plane". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 25 June 2016. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  20. ^ "China, the Vatican and a controversial deal". BBC News. 4 February 2018. Archived from the original on 8 February 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Vatican rebukes ex-cardinal after remarks on 'selling out' of Chinese Catholics". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  22. ^ Scimia, Emanuele (29 January 2020). "The Vatican Stays Away from the Hong Kong Crisis Due to Fears of Beijing's Retaliation". Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 13 February 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  23. ^ 活動資訊 :: 香港天主教正義和平委員會. www.hkjp.org (in Chinese (Hong Kong)). Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  24. ^ a b c "Vatican and China sign agreement on bishop appointments". Reuters. 22 September 2018. Archived from the original on 22 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018 – via The Guardian.
  25. ^ Rosner, Max (27 September 2018). "A compromise too far?". The Irish Catholic. Archived from the original on 5 June 2020. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  26. ^ a b "Vatican announces deal with China on bishop appointments". NBC News. Archived from the original on 22 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  27. ^ Rocca, Francis X.; Dou, Eva (22 September 2018). "Vatican and China Sign Deal Over Bishops, Allowing Pope a Veto". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 23 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  28. ^ "Briefing Note about the Catholic Church in China, 22.09.2018" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 22 September 2018. Archived from the original on 27 September 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2018. H.E. Mgr Joseph Guo Jincai, H.E. Mgr Joseph Huang Bingzhang, H.E. Mgr Paul Lei Shiyin, H.E. Mgr Joseph Liu Xinhong, H.E. Mgr Joseph Ma Yinglin, H.E. Mgr Joseph Yue Fusheng, H.E. Mgr Vincent Zhan Silu and H.E. Mgr Anthony Tu Shihua, OFM (who, before his death on 4th January 2017, had expressed the desire to be reconciled with the Apostolic See).
  29. ^ "Pope Francis recognizes seven bishops in China". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 22 September 2018. Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  30. ^ "China's Catholic Church pledges loyalty to Party after Vatican deal". Reuters. 23 September 2018. Archived from the original on 25 September 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  31. ^ Pope Francis. "Message of Pope Francis to the Catholics of China and to the Universal Church, 26.09.2018". Vatican Press. Archived from the original on 13 November 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  32. ^ Wo-Lap Lam, Willy (10 October 2018). "Vatican Agreement Latest Front in Xi's Widening Religious Clampdown". Jamestown Foundation. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  33. ^ "China-Vatican accord followed by the destruction of two shrines in Shanxi and Guizhou (videos)". www.asianews.it. 25 October 2018. Archived from the original on 7 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  34. ^ Rogers, Benedict (17 September 2020). "China Is Already Breaking Its Vatican Deal". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  35. ^ Winfield, Nicole (22 October 2020). "Vatican, China extend bishop agreement over US opposition". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 31 March 2021. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  36. ^ "Pope hopes deal with China on bishop appointments will be renewed soon". South China Morning Post. 6 July 2022. Archived from the original on 9 July 2022.