Vatican holding "private" top level meeting on China

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Top officials from Holy See agencies are meeting today with leaders of the Catholic Church in China to discuss challenges for the Church in the world's most populous country, including unity of the official and unrecognised churches.

AsiaNews reports that Vatican dicasteries will hold a "private" and "sub secreto" meeting today and on Saturday to discuss a range of issues that also include Beijing's ambiguities, illicit ordinations of bishops ordained, the unity of the official and unrecognised Church, and particularly how to eliminate the influence of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

Among the participants at the meeting are top figures from the Secretariat of State, including Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and from the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, as well as various figures involved in mission towards China: Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop of Hong Kong; Cardinal Paul Shan, Bishop emeritus of Kaohsiung (Taiwan); Monsignor Jose Lai Hung-seng, Bishop of Macao.

Also taking part from the Hong Kong diocese are Auxiliary Bishop John Tong and Dr Anthony Lam, an expert of the Holy Spirit Study Centre, the diocese's institute of theology and for documentation on China.

According to AsiaNews sources the problem is not so much the long-time impasse on diplomatic relations, but the situation created with the three illicit episcopal ordinations which took place during 2006.

After all these ordinations, the Chinese Ambassador in Rome went as far as to "apologise" to the Vatican, Asia News says.

AsiaNews says that the Holy See is also concerned with the role of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association which, under its states, still foresees the creation of a national and independent Church, separate from Rome.

However, it appears that various branches of the Chinese government, notably the Foreign Ministry, find themeselves increasingly embarrassed by the positions of the Patriotic Association.

The International Herald Tribune notes that Cardinal Bertone will preside at the meeting and that Pope Benedict may meet with participants although he will not attend.

Meanwhile, CBC News Canada says that Pope Benedict has reportedly accepted the ordination of a Catholic priest chosen by China's Communist government - a move that would be seen as a concession on the Vatican's behalf.

With Benedict's consent in the mutual agreement, 42-year-old Fr Gan Junqiu will be elevated to become the bishop of the southern city of Guangzhou, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

Gan's candidacy is a good development for the dioceses in Guangzhou, the Post quoted an unnamed Vatican official as saying.


SOURCE
Vatican to hold high-level talks on relations with China (International Herald Tribune, 18/1/07)
Meeting at Vatican on the Church in China (AsiaNews, 18/1/07)
Pope OK's Communist-chosen bishop in China

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Roman Catholicism in China (Wikipedia)
Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association

ARCHIVE
Hong Kong cardinal in call to excommunicate China bishops (CathNews, 22/12/06)
Chinese Bishop abducted, escapes over illicit ordination (CathNews, 1/12/06) Hong Kong Cardinal says China persecutes both official and underground churches (CathNews, 3/10/06)
Cardinal Zen urges suspension of bishop Beijing ordained (CathNews, 1/5/06)

19 Jan 2007