The Vatican said Francis decided to accept the appointment of China to serve the “greater good” of the faithful in Shanghai despite reservations.
The leader of the Catholic Church worldwide Pope Francis accepted the election of China as a the new bishop in Shanghaiofficially recognizing the Beijing installation of Bishop Shen Bin three months after it happened.
A statement from the Vatican on Saturday said the Pope had named Bishop Joseph Shen Bin to head the diocese of Shanghai.
But Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, said in another interview that it was not asked when Shen was transferred to Shanghai from the diocese of Haimen, Jiangsu Province.
In his press conference at the Vatican explaining the Pope’s decision, Parolin said Francis approved the appointment of Shen to allow the bishop to lead his flock and to “heal the mistakes” made by Beijing’s controversial transfer in April, which he said was carried out without involvement. and the Holy See.
The pope decided to accept Shen “because of the great good” of the Shanghai diocese and because Shen was a “respectable pastor,” Parolin said in an interview.
China and the Vatican have not had diplomatic relations since 1951, following Communist rule and the expulsion of foreign priests. In recent years, the Vatican has sought to re-establish communication and reduce conflict, particularly in the election of bishops.
The Vatican has already admitted that the 2018 agreement was not good. It regulated the position of several bishops and paved the way for future appointments, but China has repeatedly violated it amid President Xi Jinping’s sweeping crackdown on religious freedom.
Details of the agreement have not been disclosed, but Francis has said he has final authority over the selection of the bishop.
Beijing has maintained that it must accept such appointments as a matter of sovereignty. The Vatican insists on the divine authority of the pope to choose the successors of Christ’s apostles.
Since the beginning of the relationship between China and the Holy See, Catholics in China have been divided between members of the official church, the Patriotic Catholic Association, and those in the private church that follows the pope. Estimates of the total number of Chinese Catholics are between six million and 12 million.
In November last year, the Pope issued a statement explaining that “surprised and sad” on what the authorities in China did to make Peng Weizhao the assistant bishop of Jiangxi, a diocese that the Vatican does not recognize.