HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong’s Roman Catholic bishop arrived in Beijing on Monday, marking the first visit by the city’s bishop to the Chinese capital in nearly three decades, despite signs of Sino-Vatican tensions.
Bishop Stephen Chow’s five-day visit began nearly two weeks after Vatican News, the Holy See’s news portal, reported that China unilaterally appointed a new bishop to Shanghai.
Chow, who was named as the city’s bishop by Pope Francis in 2021, previously said the visit underscores the Hong Kong Diocese’s mission to build a bridge church and promote exchanges between the two sides. Is. He was invited by his counterpart there to visit the Chinese capital.
China’s ruling Communist Party closely regulates organized religion, which it sees as a potential threat to its monopoly on power. People are allowed to worship in institutions that follow party rules.
China’s ruling Communist Party closely regulates organized religion, which it sees as a potential threat to its monopoly on power. People are allowed to worship in institutions that follow party rules. Some Christians have established underground churches, which are considered illegal and harassed by the authorities.
In 2018, the Vatican and China signed a “provisional agreement” on the appointment of bishops, a breakthrough on an issue that has strained diplomatic relations for decades and exacerbated divisions among Chinese Catholics.
The agreement on Catholic bishops has been renewed twice, most recently last October for two more years. A month later, a controversy broke out over the establishment of an auxiliary bishopric in Jiangxi Province, which the Vatican does not recognize as a diocese.
The deal was also strongly criticized by Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen.
Chow’s itinerary was not disclosed by the Hong Kong Diocese when announcing his trip in March. But it said in a statement that it accepted the invitation from the Diocese of Beijing in a spirit of brotherhood.
Kung Cao Po, a publication affiliated with the Hong Kong Diocese, reported that Chow would meet with his counterpart, Joseph Li, visit the National Seminary of the Catholic Church in China and host a thanksgiving Mass at Xuanwumen Catholic Church.
Reports said he would also visit the grave of Matteo Ricci, one of the first Jesuits to live in China, who died in Beijing in 1610, and other organizations that facilitated cultural exchange.