Beijing, China, Mar 13, 2018 / 02:02 am
Government-backed bishops have spoken out publicly in support of the Vatican-China deal in a Chinese media interview at the Chinese Communist Party’s annual meetings this week.
Bishop Peter Fang Jianping of Tangshan is a member of the National People’s Congress, the Chinese government’s legislative body which voted to eliminate presidential term limits March 11.
Bishop Fang said Catholics should support President Xi Jinping “because we, as citizens of the country, should first be a citizen and then have religion and beliefs," in a Chinese media interview at the congressional meeting.
Fang, who was ordained a bishop in Beijing in 2000 without Vatican approval and then legitimized by the Holy See two years later, is also reported to have expressed confidence that the Vatican and the Chinese government could reach an agreement on the appointment of bishops to promote the development of the Church in China, according to the The Union of Catholic Asian News.
Two currently excommunicated bishops also spoke favorably of a deal between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops to the Chinese press.
Bishop Paul Lei Shiyin of Leshan, who was excommunicated by the Holy See due to his unapproved episcopal appointment, spoke to the press as an official delegate at the government’s Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference saying that diplomatic ties between China and the Vatican would have a good impact on China's international influence and and would allow the Church to conduct its work more normally on the mainland, reported UCA News.
"There are no obstacles [to a China-Vatican deal] if everyone just thinks of the benefit of the church for the sake of peace," said Bishop Vincent Zhan Silu of Mindong, another excommunicated bishop, in an interview with China’s Sing Tao Daily on March 10.
It would be rare for anyone giving a press interview at the Chinese government’s annual two weeks of meetings to say anything critical of the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Out of the 2,964 delegates in the National People’s Congress, only two people voted against giving Xi lifelong rule.