On the China-Holy See dialogue
Cardinal John Tong on 4 August published an important article on the Sino-Vatican dialogue, in which he said China “is now willing” to reach an agreement with the Holy See on the appointment of bishops in the mainland, and explained what such an agreement can or cannot contain.
There has been much speculation in the media in recent times that the Holy See and China are moving closer to reaching an historic agreement on the crucial question of the nomination of bishops. This has provoked different reactions inside and outside the mainland. Cardinal John Tong, the bishop of Hong Kong, has reflected much on this and published a very important article in Chinese, English and Italian on this whole subject, and also commented on the questions and criticisms that have been raised about the Sino-Vatican dialogue, and explained his view of the situation.
The cardinal stated in the article that “fortunately, after working for many years on this issue, the Catholic Church has gradually gained the reconsideration of the Chinese government, which is now willing to reach an understanding with the Holy See on the question of the appointment of bishops in the Catholic Church in China and seek a mutually acceptable plan.”
He said the aim of this understanding is twofold: “not to harm the unity of the Catholic Church and the essential right of the Roman Pontiff to appoint bishops”, and “not to let the pope’s right to appoint bishops be considered an interference in the internal affairs of China.”
The cardinal affirms his conviction that “even though the concrete terms of the mutual agreement have not been made public, we believe that Pope Francis, as the protector of the unity and communion of the universal Church, would not accept any agreement that would harm the integrity of faith of the universal Church or the communion between the Catholic Church in China and the universal Church.”