.- Chinaâs refusal to let four Catholic bishops travel to Rome for a synod shows the countryâs poor state of human rights and damages EU-China relations, said EU Assembly Leader Hans-Gert Poettering. The leader of the Christian Democratic group in the European Parliament asked Beijing Tuesday to reconsider its travel ban on the four bishops and allow them to attend the Oct. 2-23 synod at the Vatican, Associated Press. The four bishops represented both the official and unofficial churches in China.
In response to the Vaticanâs invitation, China government officials said the bishopsâ old age and poor health prevented them from going to Rome.
Relations between China and the Vatican became difficult in 1951, shortly after the Communist Party took power, when the Chinese government forced Catholics there to cut ties with the Vatican. This move created an official, state-sanctioned church, which today numbers about four million.
But the Cardinal Kung Foundation, a U.S.-based religious monitoring group, says another 12 million people have gone underground to form the unofficial church loyal to Rome.