newly elevated Cardinal Joseph Zen has called for the Vatican to cut
talks with his country’s government in light of the state’s decision to
elevate Father Ma Yinglin to bishop on Sunday--something it did without
the Holy See’s approval.
According to the Associated Press, Cardinal Zen said that the Chinese government also plans to appoint Father Liu Xinhong to bishop of the eastern Anhui province on Wednesday, despite the Vatican’s decision that Liu is not qualified for the post.
In 1951, newly communist China cut its ties with the Vatican, opting to form a state-sanctioned Catholic church without the approval or oversight of Rome. An underground Catholic Church--faithful to the Vatican--has also formed since then which is now said to contain some 10 million members.
The two major stumbling blocks to Holy See-China relations remain who has the authority to appoint bishops--the state or the Vatican--as well as China’s insistence that the Vatican halt its diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
On Tuesday, Cardinal Zen, who was appointed by the Vatican and an enthusiastic supporter of renewed relations, told the South China Morning Post that discussions "cannot continue because people will think [the Vatican is] prepared to surrender. We cannot budge. When you brutally place such a fait accompli, how can you call this dialogue?"
Leaders of the state-sanctioned church and the government however, say they do not believe that the Vatican will have an issue with the appointment of Father Liu.
Church vice-chairman Liu Bainian told Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK that "We believe the pope will not disagree. We have not considered whether this ordainment will bring negative consequences on Sino-Vatican relations." The government likewise, defended their right to make appointments without Holy See approval.
Cardinal Zen however, has his doubts. He thinks that the government is less fully behind the push to defy the Vatican than leaders of the state-run church, who would lose their power if discussions were revived.
"I doubt that it comes from the top of the leadership," Zen said. "I don't think they would do such insensitive things."