Acting unilaterally, the Chinese government broke its agreement with the Vatican, appointing a bishop loyal to the communist party to preside over Shanghai, the country’s largest Roman Catholic diocese. The Holy See was informed Shen Bin had been installed as the new bishop, according to Asia News. The announcement arrived at the Vatican via a letter sent by the Council of Chinese Bishops, led by Shen and completely controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Council of Chinese Bishops is not recognized as legitimate by the Holy See and Shen’s appointment was reportedly “unilateral” and made without the approval of Pope Francis. Last October, the Vatican renewed a controversial agreement with the CCP. Initially approved in 2018 — and subsequently renewed in 2020 and 2022 — the agreement allows the Chinese government to submit candidates for bishop offices but allegedly leaves the final decision to the pope.
Vatican officials said in a statement last fall they were “committed to continuing a respectful and constructive dialogue with the CCP for a productive implementation of the Accord and further development of bilateral relations, with a view to fostering the mission of the Catholic Church and the good of the Chinese people.” That agreement has seemingly been ignored by the CCP. The Chinese government consistently violates the human rights of religious adherents, from abusing minority Muslims to destroying churches. Todd Nettleton, of The Voice of the Martyrs, said China announced in 2019 its intention “to release a new translation of the Bible” that “would really support the communist party.” “It’s so arrogant to think about rewriting the story of Jesus’ but the issue for the Chinese Communist Party is control, and they see the Christian message as something that would take control away from the communist party.”
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