🕊️ Pope Plays Catch-Up: Nods to China’s Bishop Appointee Post Hoc 🇨🇳
In a shocking turn of events, Pope Francis back-peddled, giving a thumbs up 👍 to China’s self-appointed bishop in Shanghai, three months after his instatement. Apparently, Vatican had no say when Bishop Shen Bin was transferred from Haimen to Shanghai. However, Pope went for a “greater good” mantra and gave his blessings anyway. This move is amidst the Vatican’s efforts to mend fences with China since their ties broke off in 1951.
Crack out the incense, folks, we’ve got a divine plot twist on our hands! The Holy See has decided to play nice and take one for the team – or should we say, the flock? 🐑
In an unexpected flex of diplomacy, Pope Francis has formally recognized Beijing’s installation of Bishop Shen Bin to head the vacant Shanghai diocese position. The Vatican wasn’t exactly on the guest list when China made this move unilaterally, and the Pope was basically left to RSVP after the party had started. 👀
So why did Pope Francis approve this unexpected transfer, you might ask? Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, stepped in to explain. It turns out that the Pope was looking to “heal the canonical irregularity” caused by Beijing’s solo move. He thought that Bishop Shen could steer the ship (or should we say, flock?) in Shanghai and that this approval would serve “for the greater good.” 🕊️
Now, we need to rewind a bit. Vatican and China haven’t exactly been the best of friends since 1951, when foreign priests were given the boot by the Communist rise to power. Ever since, the Vatican has been trying to rekindle that old flame, mainly over appointing bishops.
In 2018, both parties managed to strike an agreement to clear the air around bishop appointments. While this was seen as a step forward, it was far from a romantic reunion. 🌹 The agreement’s full details remained under wraps, but Pope Francis claimed he had the last word in the bishop appointment process. However, Beijing didn’t seem to get that memo and insisted on their national sovereignty to approve such appointments. Quite a pickle, huh?
China’s Catholics have found themselves torn between a state-sanctioned church, the Patriotic Catholic Association, and an underground one loyal to the Pope. 🕳️
In an intriguing development last November, the Pope expressed “surprise and regret” over Chinese authorities’ decision to appoint Peng Weizhao as the auxiliary bishop of Jiangxi, a diocese the Vatican does not recognise.
To say the least, things in this celestial chess game between the Vatican and China are far from predictable. So here’s a thought-provoking question: is Pope Francis’s approval of Bishop Shen a tactical move for Vatican-China relations or a defeat for the Pope’s claimed authority over bishop appointments? And in this great game of divine diplomacy, who will make the next move? 🤔🇻🇦🇨🇳