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China appoints Shanghai bishop without Vatican nod

China says spy claims in Germany and Britain are malicious
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China has appointed a new bishop of Shanghai, the country’s largest Catholic diocese, in a unilateral move that violates a landmark agreement to coordinate with the Vatican.

The Holy See said Tuesday that it had been informed “a few days ago” of Bishop Shen Bin’s appointment, confirming a report by the AsiaNews website.

“I have nothing to say at the moment about the Holy See’s opinion on the matter,” said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, adding that he had been informed by the media of the appointment Tuesday.

The Chinese embassy to the Holy See did not comment to AFP.

The Vatican and the Communist regime in Beijing signed a secretive agreement in 2018 on the thorny issue of the appointment of bishops in China.

That historic accord was renewed for two years in October, against a backdrop of tensions over the place of the country’s estimated 12 million or so Catholics.

But at the end of November, the Vatican expressed “surprise” and “regret” at the appointment of a bishop in a diocese in China not recognised by the Holy See, which violated the accord.

The deal, the contents of which have not been made public, aims to reunite Chinese Catholics split between the official and underground churches, while giving the pope the final say in appointing bishops.

“The Holy See is not happy that a bishop of a diocese as important as Shanghai is appointed without it first being agreed with the Holy See,” Italian missionary Gianni Criveller, an expert on the Catholic Church in China, told AFP on Wednesday.

The agreement “recognises the right of the pope to appoint bishops in China… which does not seem to have been the case here”, he said.

Criveller stressed the seriousness of the episode, against the background of already “very complicated” relations between China and the Vatican.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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