China Rejects Vatican Invitation to 4 Bishops

Says Request «Shows No Respect»

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BEIJING, SEPT. 11, 2005 ( China has turned down a Vatican invitation to four Chinese bishops to be members of the Synod on the Eucharist this October, contending the move showed no respect.

The invitation of the bishops, three of the official Church of China and one of the underground Church, was seen by Vatican figures as a «warm and friendly» indication to the Beijing government that talks can safely be opened with the Holy See, reported AsiaNews.

A spokesman for the official Church associations of China replied: «The invitation goes against the original good intention of the Pope and shows no respect for China’s 5 million Catholics, bishops, the Chinese Catholic bishops college and the China Patriotic Catholic Association and for the decision-making power of the two Chinese Catholic groups,» reported Reuters.

«If the Holy See has deep sincerity to improve China-Vatican relations, we hope they take real actions, rather than put up new barriers,» the spokesman added.

In a speech May 12 to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Benedict XVI had referred to countries that do not have «diplomatic relations,» saying that he expressed the hope of seeing them represented at the Vatican sooner or later — a clear reference to China, the only major power not to recognize the Pope.

The four mainland Chinese prelates are Anthony Li Duan of Xian, Louis Jin Luxian of Shanghai, and Li Jingfeng of Fengxiang — all recognized by the government — and Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar.

The Vatican estimates it has about 8 million followers in China, compared with about 5 million who follow the government-sanctioned Church.

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