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Vatican Finally Recognizes Beijing-Picked Bishop

Deutsche Welle Chinese Edition recently reported that Pope Francis has backed down on his earlier position, agreeing to formally recognize Beijing’s pick of Shen Bin as the new bishop of Shanghai. Beijing placed She Bin in this position three months ago.

Although the Vatican agreed to recognize Shen Bin, it criticized China’s unilateral decision on personnel as “disregarding the spirit of dialogue and cooperation.” The Bishop position of the Shanghai Diocese had been vacant for ten years since the previous bishop Jin Luxian passed away in 2013. Father Ma Daqin, once seen as a successor to Jin Luxian, was placed under house arrest after he resigned from his positions in the official Chinese Patriotic Association. The Vatican said in April that they only learned about China’s appointment of Shen Bin from media reports.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that the Pope’s decision to accept Shen Bin as the Shanghai bishop is for the benefit of the Shanghai Diocese and to promote dialogue with the Chinese authorities. Parolin also said China’s move runs counter to the “spirit of cooperation” outlined in the 2018 agreement between the Holy See and the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops.

China and the Vatican have had no formal diplomatic relations since the Communist Party took power and expelled foreign priests in 1951. However, the two sides do have a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops, originally signed in 2018 and extended for two-year periods in 2020 and 2022. The wording of the agreement has been kept secret.

Source: DW Chinese, July 16, 2023