China and Vatican fight over control of church
November 25th, 2010
08:37 AM ET

China and Vatican fight over control of church

A long-simmering battle between the Vatican and China over  control of the Chinese Catholic Church blew up this week over the creation of a  new Chinese Catholic bishop without the pope's permission.

The Roman Catholic Church said Beijing forced bishops to participate in  the ordination of Joseph Guo Jincai, while China charged the Vatican with  interfering with religious liberty in China.

Guo was ordained a bishop on Saturday, the Vatican said, calling the  unauthorized act "a grave violation of Catholic discipline."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday that the  Chinese Catholic Church was independent and that any "intervention" constituted  "restriction of freedom and non-tolerance."

The Vatican had warned Beijing "several times" this year not to make Guo a bishop, it said.

Going ahead with the ordination anyway "offends the Holy Father, the  Church in China and the universal Church, and further complicates the present  pastoral difficulties," the Vatican said.

It's the first time since 2006 that China's Catholic Church is known to  have anointed bishops without approval from Rome, the Vatican said Thursday.

The Vatican excommunicated the two bishops created in 2006, and Wednesday  threatened to excommunicate both Guo and the bishops who presided over his appointment.

The Chinese government subjected bishops "to pressures and restrictions  on their freedom of movement" to force them to ordain Guo, the Vatican charged  in a statement.

That constitutes a "grave violation of freedom of religion and  conscience," the statement said.

The Roman Catholic Church and Beijing had been working towards warmer  relations since 2007, the Vatican said.

The United States expressed serious concerned about religious freedom in  China last week in its annual global report on the subject.

Despite some limited praise for Beijing, the State Department listed China as one of eight countries of "particular concern" on religious freedom.

It accused China of persecution followers of the Dalai Lama in Tibet and  Uyghur Muslims in western China.

Only Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Catholics and Protestants are allowed to practice their religions legally in China, the States Department said.

CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing, China, contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • China • Pope Benedict XVI • Religious liberty

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Bubble Shooter

    This is a good article. You have my vote and I'll bookmark this weblog right now.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  2. Gary

    The new pope mobile was made in China.

    November 27, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  3. Bob

    Doesn't the pope (in the image above) look like he's on the top rope and about to body splash some hapless wrestler?

    WWE Announcer: Here comes his patented finishing move the "Descent from Heaven".
    WWE Announcer: Yeah, the Iron Shiek is going to feel the weight of the lord tonight!

    November 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  4. Prophet

    Dear catholicmom,

    your reaction is quite natural by someone who has been and is still being misled. i am a jew and was raised as catholic and applied to become a cathollic priest but discovered that the catholic religion and others cannot really be what they say they are and there is plenty of foundation and it is in the the Very Writings that we know as The Holy Bible but not in the catholics version but in the Original Hebrew as it was written. This is what i do is educate the christians to the Truth and to help them not to be misled anymore. i do hope that you will listen and realise that Our God is not a religion.

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    of course you have the right to believe what you want to believe but anyone who creates a religion is going away from God as what you say The Jewish people were alreday here and Our Saviour is Jewish and the catholics etc were antisemtic and this is why they became a religion as as to have control.

    When the so called christians realise that once they believe in Yeshua Our Saviour then they become Jewish too and anyone who denies this denies God and their Salvation. This is a fact and is Written in The Original Hebrew Writings and this is what i do is help christians to understand they they are being misled and because i am Jewish and was raised as catholic and applied to become a catholic priest i discovered the deception that began when the greeks began the bishop thing. So if The disciples called ecah other brother and they are greater than any bishop pope etc then this proves how religion is the Adversaries concept.

    November 26, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  5. Cynical

    Pope is always next to the King in keeping the population in order. Pay enough money you are forgiven for your sins. Sell your soul to the devil and you become imensly wealthy. Al Copone could not get away from evading taxes, but the Churches can, including Catholic. Still alot of assistance comes from religion when a person has there throat under the kings boot. The church can move masses faster than the media and gets paid handsomely for it though its Sunday donations. China just wants a larger cut of that money and power from its huge population, so its leader can put both arms in the air like a wicked wizard and control them.

    November 26, 2010 at 6:45 am |
    • gerald

      Man are you dilusional.

      November 29, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  6. Peace2All

    In the article, it said:

    "Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday that the Chinese Catholic Church was independent and that any "intervention" const-ituted "restriction of freedom and non-tolerance." 😯

    Wow... The Chinese, in my opinion, are demonstrating some serious hubris. They, have -0- business, making 'any' claims as to "restriction of freedoms." And, "non-tolerance"...Really...? I mean who are they kidding...?!!!

    Also from the article, it said:

    "Only Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Catholics and Protestants are allowed to practice their religions legally in China, the States Department said."

    ...."Legally Practice"... Apparently, as long as the Chinese Government has a say about it, and hand in it. How is this any kind of religious freedom. This is just mind-boggling.

    Not that I'm a big fan of the RCC and the Pope, by any stretch, but I certainly hope that their will continue to be some truly radical changes going on in China.

    Makes me again, especially on this day of Thanksgiving, truly 'appreciate' my rights and freedoms in the U.S.


    November 26, 2010 at 1:33 am |
    • gerald

      Read this and other boards and you will realize we are not that close to loosing the right to religous freedom in this country. Such hatred of religion.

      November 29, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  7. Gary

    U.S.A owes China billions.......America is too religious and broke to pay their debts.

    November 25, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
    • mr pink

      gary you're a moron. too religious to pay debts?

      you're joking.

      November 25, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  8. Gary

    Got back from China in October. China is kicking U.S.A ass China is not a religious country like u.s.a. Pakastan and Iran. China and India are productive. Mathmatics and science blows away usa. Prez pookie is getting rid of nasa here in clear lake. God is blessing China with usa jobs.

    November 25, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  9. Dozo

    Photo caption: Emperor Palpatine is angry and he is using his force choke to assassinate Chinese leaders.

    November 25, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  10. Cynical

    Come on, China just wants to take get in on gravy train of money that catholics would syphone from its followers like the Vatican does. Its like taxes, free money. Call it what you like, but $$$ = power.

    November 25, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • Per

      You certainly are cynical. the smallest state in the world has certainly done a bad job of syphoning money from over a billion catholics. Can the pope eat the works of michelangelo or the bricks of Saint Peters Church for breakfast. Why does he drive around i a popemobil that doesn't belong to him when he drive round in a ferrari ? Why don't you pay when you enter a Catholic Church? Why does the Chuch have the media against it. Would't it be a good idea to controll it? really cynical

      November 25, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  11. paul

    I think China is just taking the necessary steps to protect her children.

    November 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  12. velaszqz

    Haha, China knows to pull the PC card and use "tolerance" and "Freedom of speech" to get what they want.
    Fact is: Chinese churches have to be sanctioned and limited by the central government. The pope ordains bishops all over the world, what difference does it make? No one else seems to care.

    November 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  13. Iqbal Khan

    Want to know what Islam is?

    November 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
    • Bob

      I know what Islam is. Nonsense. There, I just saved everyone a good 30 minutes of reading tripe on that site.

      November 25, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  14. Skeptic

    China to Pope: Bite me!

    November 25, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  15. Reality

    And the futility on the part of both parties is expressed below:

    So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    November 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • thorrsman

      You are, I take it, unfamiliar with the Christian's Bible? The followers of the crucified rabbi claimed his body and placed it in a tomb. According to their book, the body disappeared and the rabbi, whole, appeared to them alive. Recall "Doubting" Thomas. There would have been no body to have the bones of, by their belief.

      November 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians including Chinese versions from the Big Resurrection Con:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology grad school notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      The single Step continued:

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue, ( Professors Crossan and Wright are On Faith panelists).

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      November 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  16. thorrsman

    S'funny, but I get the feeling that the same people who cheer the Chinese government for appointing a bishop without consulting the Vatican are the ones USUALLY screaming: "Separation of Church and State"!

    THIS is a perfect example of what we should NOT want anywhere: A government trying to control religion to gain further control of the people.

    November 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Well Said...


      November 26, 2010 at 1:18 am |
  17. PJ

    Few here in Boston the epicenter of the Catholic pedophila expose, pay any attention to Benedict either. We do not accept him as head of our Church.

    November 25, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      Yours is not a Catholic Church, right? Who do you look to, to resolve disputes? Do you just split off and start another church or find one that thinks like you? Just curious....

      November 25, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
    • gerald

      You are no different than 2000 years of other schismatics who consider themselves wiser than Christ who said "the gates of hell shall not prevail".

      November 29, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.