Pope Francis has officially recognised the bishop of Shanghai, Joseph Shen Bin, who was already appointed by the People’s Republic of China in April.
At that time, the government in Beijing had removed the churchman Shen Bin from the diocese of Haimen and transferred him to Shanghai.
The Holy See was not involved in this decision.
On Saturday, the head of the Catholic Church now officially gave the green light for the transfer to Shanghai in a terse statement.
According to the Vatican, it is the pontiff’s responsibility to appoint Catholic bishops.
China’s action and Shen Bin’s appointment, therefore, contradict the “spirit of dialogue and collaboration” established in 2018 between China and the Vatican in an agreement on the appointment of bishops, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin told the official news portal Vatican News on Saturday.
Shen Bin, however, was “an esteemed pastor.”
Francis had accepted China’s unilateral move for the “greater good” of the faithful in Shanghai and therefore decided to “rectify the canonical irregularity”.
The Vatican now hopes that future decisions on vocations will be made together by consensus.
Parolin called for an “open dialogue” as well as a “respectful encounter with the Chinese side.”
He insisted on respect for the agreement.
The “proper application of the agreement” would make it possible to avoid such difficulties, he indicated.
China and the Holy See do not maintain diplomatic relations.
In 2018, however, they reached an agreement on the appointment of bishops. (dpa/NAN)