Pope Francis confirms bishop appointed by Beijing, but regrets decision

“Oh Monsignor Giuseppe Shen Bin replaces him from the neighboring Diocese of Haimen as Bishop of Shanghai in mainland China,” the Vatican said in a statement, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.

In October 2022, the Vatican and the communist regime in Beijing renewed for two years a historic agreement signed in 2018 on the difficult issue of ordaining bishops in China, amid tensions over the situation of Catholics in that country.

However, in late November, the Vatican expressed its “surprise” and “regret” over the appointment of a bishop in a diocese in China not recognized by the Holy See, which it believes violated the 2018 agreement, which was renewed for the first time. 2020 and it will decide on common practice.

Beijing then decided to appoint Shen Bin as the Bishop of Shanghai.

The Vatican-China agreement, the content of which has not been made public, aims to unite Chinese Catholics divided between the official and underground churches, giving the pope the final say in the appointment of bishops.

In a separate statement released today, Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s number two and diplomatic chief, justified the pope’s decision with his desire not to further poison relations with Beijing.

“These two transfers were decided without the participation of the Holy See. This move does not seem to be in line with the spirit of dialogue and cooperation established between the Vatican and China,” he said.

However, the Pope “decided to regularize the canonical disorganization created in Shanghai for the good of the diocese and for the better use of the bishop’s pastoral work”.

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“This will allow Monsignor Shen Bin to work with great peace of mind,” he added.

The Vatican, Parolin underlined, henceforth, both parties must work to “prevent situations of disagreements that create disagreements and misunderstandings” and strive to respect “the basic principle of unanimity in decisions concerning bishops.”

The text has drawn criticism in the church since the 2022 agreement between the Vatican and China, which some see as Beijing’s stranglehold on the country’s roughly 10 million Catholics, where churches have been destroyed and closed. Daycare centers, while restrictions on religious freedom are also indicated.

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