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Hong Kong Bishop Doubts Vatican-China Relations Will Be Normalized by 2008

Hong Kong’s Cardinal Zen said that China – Vatican relations have soured and would not be normalized by 2008 because of the ordination of 2 bishops without papal permission.
( [email protected] ) May 06, 2006 01:38 PM EDT

Hong Kong’s Cardinal Zen said that China – Vatican relations have soured and would not be normalized by 2008 because of the ordination of 2 bishops without papal permission.

Cardinal Zen said that plans to renew normalization of diplomatic relations would be delayed because of the Catholic Patriotic Catholic Association’s "damaging actions," while visiting the neighboring Chinese territory of Macau.

The strong critic of Beijing’s religious policy added that he hopes China would not make any further unauthorized ordinations now that the Vatican made its opposition clear.

The ordination of bishops Ma Yinglin and Liu Xinhong brought strong condemnation from the Pope on Thursday. The same day, the Vatican accused China of violating religious freedom when it receive reports that Beijing had coerced key Catholic leaders into accepting the consecrations.

The penalty for the ordinations without papal blessings may follow with excommunication, according to the Vatican on Thursday.

A Vatican spokesman said that Pope Benedict XVI was "saddened" and has received the appointment with "profound displeasure," noting that events in the past week has brought "new obstacles" to China-Vatican dialogue.

Prior to the ordinations, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Vatican would pursue renewed relations with China after it severed ties with the Vatican.

The Vatican had initially considered ending relations with Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province.

Before the statement released by the Vatican, Zen had predicted that the negotiations between the Holy See and Beijing would be put on hold because of the recent consecrations.

"The dialogue cannot continue because people will think we are prepared to surrender," Zen said in a newspaper interview. "When you brutally place such a fait accompli, how can you call this dialogue?"