The removal of a Vatican representative from a disputed territory has some speculating that the Holy See is aiming for good relations with Communist authorities in China.
The Vatican recently announced that their representative in Taiwan, Monsignor Arnaldo Catalan, would be transferred to Rwanda. That move followed the announcement that their representative in Hong Kong, Monsignor Javier Herrera Corona, would also be transferred to Congo. The Vatican did not provide any explanation regarding the transfers. It generated the speculation that the Vatican is endeavoring to be in good terms with the Chinese Communist Party. The accusation has been dismissed by Catholic prelates.
Fox News reports:
The Roman Catholic Church has shuffled its representatives in key East Asian countries, drawing speculation that the Vatican is making good faith moves to appease the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), an accusation that Catholic prelates deny.
On Jan. 31, the Vatican announced that Monsignor Arnaldo Catalan in Taiwan would be leaving the country to take a new position in Rwanda. Five days later, it was announced that Monsignor Javier Herrera Corona of Hong Kong would be moving stations to the Congo.
The Vatican has not had formal diplomatic relations with Beijing since the Communist Revolution, but the newly vacated seats in Hong Kong and Taiwan – two key international positions for communication with the CCP – have raised concerns that the church is considering actively reaching out to China.
Monsignor Corona spoke with the Union of Catholic Asian News Feb. 8 about the transfers and told reporters that the reshuffling was a normal, unremarkable process.
“These are regular transfers,” Corona told UCA News.
“The mission in Hong Kong is not closed. Taiwan is also not folding,” he continued, adding that replacements could be “expected within three months.”
In China, the only organization approved for public Catholic worship is the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Organization. The Chinese Communist Party controls the management and functioning of the church.
The Catholic Church in China is unofficially split along political lines between the Communist Party-approved Chinese Patriotic Catholic Organization (CPCO) and the “underground church” that has attempted to evade CCP interference in their liturgy and hierarchy.
The CPCO Church is the only approved form of public Catholic worship in the country, as the CCP maintains tight grips on the appointment of bishops and celebration of sacraments, despite Vatican protests.
Catholicism poses a unique problem for the Communist nation, as its structure and governance grants the foreign pontiff authority over the spiritual lives of its followers.
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