Hong Kong bishop hints at Vatican deal with China

800Source: Associated Press

By GERRY SHIH
Yesterday

BEIJING (AP) — The head of the Catholic church in Hong Kong has expressed optimism that the Vatican and Beijing can overcome the controversial issue of bishop appointments lying at the core of a decades-long dispute.

800Cardinal John Tong said in a lengthy essay published by the Hong Kong diocese that a “preliminary consensus has reportedly been reached” on the matter, and suggested that the pope could retain veto power over the ordination of mainland bishops under the new arrangement.

China’s officially atheistic Communist Party cut relations with the Vatican in 1951 and ordered Chinese Catholics to take their orders only from Beijing.

The two sides have been negotiating on a resumption of ties, but a major stumbling block is Beijing’s insistence that a party-controlled body have the authority to appoint Chinese bishops, a power the Holy See says belongs to the pope alone.

“The dialogue between China and the Holy See implies that changes have already taken place in Beijing’s policy on the Catholic Church,” Tong wrote in the Hong Kong diocese’s Sunday Examiner publication last week. “It will now let the pope play a role in the nomination and ordination of Chinese bishops. Beijing will also recognize the pope’s right of veto and that the pope is the highest and final authority in deciding on candidates for bishops in China.”

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