Source: The New York Times
BEIJING — China will not allow any foreign interference in religious affairs in the country, a senior official said on Tuesday, dousing expectations of an imminent deal with the Vatican over control of the Roman Catholic Church here.
“I think there is no religion in human society that is above the state,” the official, Chen Zongrong, said during a briefing on religious affairs in China, underscoring the government’s intention to maintain strict control over all religious organizations and their believers.
Mr. Chen’s remarks came amid reports that the Vatican was prepared to make concessions to Beijing in the appointment of the church’s bishops — including by asking two “underground” bishops to step aside — in exchange for retaining some influence over those who are chosen in the future.
The prospect of a breakthrough after decades of dispute between China’s Communist leaders and a succession of popes has raised hopes but also stirred unusual public criticism of the Vatican. Some Catholic leaders have warned that concessions to Beijing could betray those who have faced pressure and even persecution by worshiping in the so-called underground church here.