China rejects Vatican’s criticism as ‘imprudent’

Thursday, December 23, 2010

BEIJING - China has rejected as “imprudent” the Vatican’s criticism of a recent national congress of Chinese Catholics, blaming the Vatican for damaging relations between the two sides.

A spokesperson for the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) said Wednesday the Vatican’s criticism was very imprudent and ungrounded, Xinhua reported.

In a statement dated Dec 17, the Vatican condemned the congress, which elected the new leadership of China’s Catholic church, and accused China of violating religious freedom.

The congress elected the heads and other senior members of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC).

The spokesperson said the congress, which is held every five years to amend the CCPA’s and BCCCC’s constitutions, elect a new leadership and set future agenda, does not deal with Catholic doctrines or violate the fundamental Catholic faith, and “there is no question of getting recognition by any foreign organisation or state”.

The spokesperson said the senior leaders of the two organisations were elected with a majority of the vote, reflecting the will of the congress’s representatives.

China’s constitution grants Chinese citizens freedom of religious beliefs, but requires independence of religious organisations and affairs in the country from foreign influence.

The spokesperson called the Vatican’s practice of seeking to push political ideology through religious belief “very dangerous” and warned it could have serious percussions for the Catholic Church’s development in China.

The spokesperson said the congress, which was established over 50 years ago, is a democratic assembly for Chinese Catholics that has the full respect from the Chinese government.

At the eighth congress held Dec 7-9, Bishop Fang Xingyao was elected CCPA chairman and Bishop Ma Yinglin was elected head of the BCCCC.

The spokesperson blamed the Vatican for unilaterally causing the current “regretful situation in China-Vatican relations”.

Hoping to improve China-Vatican ties, China had shown its willingness to have sincere and constructive dialogue with the Vatican in recent years, the spokesperson said.

However, the Vatican had interfered in the internal affairs of China’s Catholic Church in both open and clandestine ways in an attempt to control the church, the spokesperson said.

China-Vatican ties were cut after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

Filed under: Religion

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