.- Vatican and Chinese officials have been in secret negotiations regarding seven detained bishops of the underground Roman Catholic Church in China, reported The Sunday Times.
The talks were disclosed by Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, who said last week that Vatican envoys were in Beijing for closed-door talks to try to prevent the continued decrease in conditions for priests and bishops loyal to the Pope, reported the Times.
The tensions between the Vatican and China concern the Pope’s right to appoint bishops in China and the Vatican’s recognition of Taiwan. The Vatican had been trying to facilitate talks prior to the Chinese government’s recent decision to ordain three bishops without Vatican approval. Cardinal Zen says there is evidence the clergymen were coerced into going through with the ordinations. Nonetheless, these ordinations undid months of diplomacy between the two states.
Cardinal Zen said two bishops appointed to the rural Christian stronghold of Baoding, in central Hebei province- Bishops Su Zhimin and An Shuxin- vanished more than six years ago and there is no indication of where they are.
There is also growing concern for the welfare of one of the detained bishops - 89-year-old Bishop Lin Xili of Wenzhou. Reports say he is under guard in a hospital at an undisclosed location, can only take liquid and is partially paralyzed.
Anthony Liu Bainian vice-chairman of the Patriotic Association is reported to have warned Chinese leaders that allowing the Pope to appoint bishops would lead to the Church becoming a greater social force and the eventual fall of the communist system in China as it happened in Poland.
The Cardinal Kung Foundation feels the Vatican was mistaken to think that Communist country would ever allow the Church to exist freely in China and believes the current diplomatic troubles have exposed “a very confused China policy by the Vatican in recent years,” Joseph Kung, foundation spokesperson, told the Times.