Vatican needs to adapt to local systems
The Catholic diocese of Heilongjiang recently celebrated the ordination of a new bishop, and the diocese of Shanghai that of an assistant bishop. The Holy See is opposed to the candidate for the bishopric of the Catholic diocese of Heilongjiang previously and attempted to influence the ordination in the Catholic diocese of Shanghai. This action is a result of the obsession with power which has appeared repeatedly in the history of the Holy See.
China is a secular state in which various religions are managed according to the law and are protected by the law. In recent years, these religions have undergone considerable development. There are neither sectarian conflicts nor disputes aroused by religious beliefs in China. The current frictions are produced by some people who fiddle with affairs outside religious beliefs.
Chinese Catholicism has already formed its own characteristics and system. Selection of the bishops by the dioceses themselves is in accordance with the reality of China. The Holy See should have the breadth of mind to support China. As the proverb goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. The Holy See should not divert Catholics’ attention to matters irrelevant to religious doctrines, which will undermine the purity of Chinese Catholics.
Some wars in medieval Europe were caused by the Holy See trying to keep its power. The Vatican should draw lessons from history and recognize and adapt to the reality of Chinese Catholicism.
The Vatican has been in contact with China. However, there are no diplomatic relations between Vatican City and China. The Pope has religious influence, and his attitude to the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association will not be without consequences. However, the Vatican must not overestimate its influence.
The separation of religion from politics is a basic Chinese policy that has widespread popular support. Most of the believers join the church for religious reasons while there are still a small number of religious people that deliberately only follow instructions from the Pope. However, it can not affect the overall situation of Chinese Catholicism.
China should stick to the current system. Gradual recognition of this reality is the only way for the Vatican to develop official relations with China. It is completely unrealistic for China to bend to the demands of appointing bishops by the Vatican.
Catholicism preaches tolerance. The Vatican should set a good example of the spirit of tolerance by accepting Chinese differences. All major Western countries have diplomatic ties with China. Under such circumstances, it is indeed inappropriate for the Vatican to stick to outdated attitudes.