As part of its ongoing efforts to reconcile China’s Catholic communities, the Vatican recognised two previously excommunicated Chinese bishops as heads of dioceses.
The move came after an unprecedented Beijing meeting that included a group of Vatican officials led by Pope Francis’ chief China negotiator, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli; Chinese bishops jointly recognised by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party; and a group of Vatican-appointed bishops from the so-called underground Church, which only recognises the authority of Rome and not the patriotic association.
“The latest trip of the delegation of the Holy See to China is especially important because, for the first time, it was concentrated on the life of the Church in China, and no longer on formal diplomatic-political issues,” Francesco Sisci, a senior researcher at Beijing’s Renmin University and former correspondent for Italian media, told Catholic News Service.
“There was a cathartic climate in the meeting of the Vatican delegation and the bishops of the nine dioceses recognised by the Vatican. Official and underground bishops wept, prayed together and reconciled one another and with the delegation from the Holy See,” Sisci said, adding he believed it was “a very important moment in the life of the Church in China.”
Picture: Chinese Catholics pray during Mass in late January inside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing. As part of its ongoing efforts to reconcile China’s Catholic communities, the Vatican recognised two previously ex-communicated Chinese bishops as heads of dioceses. (CNS photo/Roman Pilipey, EPA).