- Chinese Catholics have been urged to show that they are in full communion with the Holy See
- Pope Francis, who made the call on the Chinese Catholics, prayed that all Chinese faithful could live their faith with generosity
- The Vatican and Beijing have been having disagreement over nomination of bishops
Pope Francis has urged Chinese Catholics to show that they are in full communion with the Holy See. The pontiff made the call on Wednesday, May 23, amid what appears to be another stall in the Vatican's longstanding attempts to reach a deal with Beijing over nomination of bishops.
According to Francis, many Chinese Catholics will be marking a feast day dedicated to the Virgin Mary this week in Sheshan, near Shanghai, New York Times reports.
NAIJ.com notes that the pope prayed that all Chinese faithful "can live their faith with generosity and serenity, and can make gestures of fraternity, harmony and reconciliation in full communion" with him.
China has an estimate of 12 million Catholics and they are split between those belonging to the government-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and an underground church loyal to Pope Francis. It was gathered that these underground priests and parishioners are frequently harassed and detained.
In recent years, Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had tried to unite the two communities, and in recent months Vatican officials had expressed hope that a deal to resolve the key stumbling block to reconciliation was nearing completion.
According to a Vatican official, under the deal, seven bishops appointed over the years by Beijing, who were not chosen by the pope, would be recognise by Vatican, and two underground bishops named by the pope would step aside. The official added that the pope would have effective veto power over Beijing-nominated bishops.
However, in February, China introduced new regulations on religious affairs and has hardened attitudes towards any organisation outside the direct control of the Communist Party just as recent propaganda posters have been popping up around the country, saying God can’t solve problems, only the party can.
The posters read: “Go to church each day to study God, no way the spirit can relieve your hardship" “Go with the party, don’t believe in God, the party will bring us so much happiness.”
Supporters of the deal said that the Vatican-pushed deal would help the Holy See achieve its years-long goal of bringing all of China's Catholics ostensibly under the pope's wing, while those criticising it said that the deal was selling out China's long-suffering underground Catholics to an authoritarian regime.
The Vatican said it should be possible to work out the contours of a Christian presence in China even within Beijing's insistence of a "Sinicized" Catholic Church, denying that the negotiations are a sell-out.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that Pope Francis washed the prisoners’ feet at a Rome jail on Thursday, March 29 including two Muslims, an Orthodox Christian and a Buddhist, once again choosing to celebrate Holy Thursday among Italy’s incarcerated.
According to reports, it was the fourth time in the pope’s five year papacy that he has celebrated the Holy Mass in an Italian jail.
Image of Jesus Christ appears in Ikorodu Church - on NAIJ.com TV