If we know one thing about China, it’s that it likes to do things it’s own way. It won’t reign in a rogue tyrannical nation just because you ask, it will set up it’s own peace prize if it doesn’t agree with your choice, and it will go about ordaining it’s own Catholic priests too – sorry, Vatican.
The Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives, a “patriotic” government-backed association, is on it’s third day of a meeting to select new religious leaders. The group is not recognized by the Vatican as part of the Roman Catholic family and the Holy See has explicitly stated that their ordainments directly contradict the sovereignty of the Vatican. A number of Catholic leaders here have gone into hiding to avoid being roped in to the government orchestrated affair but other church leaders have not been so lucky.
At least 8 bishops have been kidnapped and forced to attend the selections in Beijing.
On Tuesday, the government’s religious affairs office said that 64 bishops, 162 priests, 24 nuns and 91 other church members are attending the meeting.
This is the second major aggravation in recent weeks – on November 20th, China ordained a new bishop in Chengde, Hebei without the pope’s approval. The reverend in question, Joseph Guo Jincai, was quickly denounced and the church said it may considering excommunicating him.
It is a bit odd though that the government is going so dramatically head to head with the church. Although China severed ties with the Vatican in 1951, for almost five years now, China has not ordained bishops without at least the pope’s tacit approval so some speculators say that China may purposely be trying to sabotage any bettering of relations between the two.