by WorldTribune Staff, January 24, 2018
The Vatican, amid pressure from the Chinese government, asked two Chinese bishops to either retire or accept demotion to make way for government-approved bishops, a report said.
The Holy See reportedly asked Bishop Peter Zhuang of Shantou and Bishop Joseph Guo Xijin of Mindong to stand aside, according to a report by Asia News, the outlet of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.
Bishop Zhuang, 88, received a letter dated Oct. 26 asking him to resign to make way for the government’s handpicked Bishop Huang Bingzhang, the report said.
Bishop Huang, who was excommunicated in 2011 after being consecrated without Vatican approval, is a member of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress.
China is ruled the Chinese Communist Party which strictly adheres to the atheistic Marxist-Leninist ideology.
According to the Asia News report, Bishop Zhuang was escorted to Beijing, where he met Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, former president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who told him to retire – “but with the proviso that he could nominate three priests, one of whom Bishop Huang would appoint as his vicar general.”
Bishop Zhuang reportedly burst into tears on hearing the demand. “It was meaningless to appoint a vicar general, who is still a priest that Bishop Huang could remove anytime,” the report noted.
Bishop Joseph Guo Xijin, who belongs to the underground Church in Fujian province, was asked to accept demotion to make way for government-backed Vincent Zhan Silu, the report said.
A source told Asia News that signing a document to accept demotion was one of the conditions authorities put to Bishop Joseph Guo Xijin before releasing him.
An underground priest in Mindong said Catholics would feel conflicted over the move. “We of course feel it is hard to accept but do we have the right to oppose the Vatican?” The priest told Asia News that he may leave the priesthood over the Vatican’s decision.