The Holy See recently recognized the bishops appointed by the communist Chinese government. Hasn’t the Pope sold the Church to the government of Beijing after so many years of suffering?
Pope Francis’ responded:
This is a process of years, a dialogue between the Vatican commission and the Chinese commission to put the appointment of bishops in order…You know that when you make a peace agreement or a negotiation, both sides lose something. This is the law. Both sides. And you move ahead.
The bishops who were in difficulty were studied case by case and in the case of the bishops, in the end dossiers came on to my desk about each one. And, I was responsible for signing the case of the bishops. Then, the case of the agreement returned, the drafts on my desk.
I signed the agreement. It’s not an improvisation. It’s a path, a true path.
An anecdote as well: we forget that in Latin America – thanks to God that this is over – we forget that for 350 years it was the king of Portugal and of Spain to appoint the bishops and the Pope only gave jurisdiction. We forget the case of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Maria Teresa was tired of signing the appointments of bishops and gave jurisdiction to the Vatican Other times, and thanks to God that they aren’t repeated. But, this isn’t that they appoint. No, this is a dialogue about eventual candidates, but Rome appoints, the Pope appoints. And, let us pray for the suffering of some who don’t understand and who have at their backs so many years of being clandestine.
Fr. Paul: It is important to understand that a pope working with governments is nothing new. We sometimes forget our history; in Europe for many years the kings appointed the bishops, as Francis points out. In England the Monarch still appoints the Archbishop of Canterbury. As Francis says there is a consultation process, but it is still the pope who appoints the bishops in China under the agreement.