Hong Kong Eyes Tougher Vatican for China

February 6, 2007


Source: The Associated Press


VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Hong Kong's outspoken cardinal said it was time for the Vatican to take a more uncompromising line toward the Chinese government, which broke with the church more than a half-century ago and has sought to maintain control of Catholic institutions.

The Vatican has long indicated that it wants to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing, even at the cost of moving its embassy from Taiwan. Currently, worship is only allowed in government-controlled churches, but as many as 10 million Catholics are estimated to belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome.

The church, however, will not compromise on the tradition dictating that only the pope - and not a local church - can appoint bishops.

In recent years, China's state-sanctioned Catholic Church, the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, and the Vatican have tacitly agreed on the appointment of a number of bishops. The agreement broke down when the state-sanctioned Church appointed three bishops, angering the Vatican.

Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, an outspoken champion of religious liberty, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he believes it is now time for Holy See to take a harsher stance on other matters as well.