Mixed signals from China over normalization of ties with Vatican

.- Speculation has begun to grow over the significance of the Chinese government’s decision for the second time to give the green light to the ordination of a Catholic bishop faithful to Rome. This week the Church in China announced the appointment of Antoine Dang Mingyan, 38, as the new Auxiliary Bishop of Xian.

Bishop Dang Mingyan was ordained on July 26 by Archbishop Anthony Li Duan of Xian, a diocese of about 20,000 Catholics.

The ordination occurred just one month after China gave official approval for the first time to an episcopal appointment by the Holy See.  That appointment was for Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Xing Wenzhi of Shanghai.

Although the Vatican and communist China have not maintained formal diplomatic ties since 1957, the recent coinciding in the appointment of bishops could have the practical effect of ending the division between the Catholic community faithful to Rome and so-called Patriotic Catholic Church, created by Mao Tse Tung in 1956 and whose first two bishops were excommunicated by the Holy See.

According to experts, China’s rhetoric towards the Vatican maintains the same tone, and although the government’s decisions reveal a growing interest in normalizing relations with the Holy See, the repression against Catholics continues.

In fact, at the same time that China coincided with the Vatican in the appointment of the two auxiliary bishops, the Cardinal Kung Foundation, headquartered in Connecticut, revealed this weekend that Chinese authorities brutally beat a group of Catholic faithful in the southeastern province of Fujian as they were attempting to prevent the arrest of Catholic priest who lives in hiding.

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