December 27, 2010

In an unusually strongly worded statement, the Vatican said the recent election of new Church leaders by government-controlled Catholic groups in China and the illicit ordination of a Chinese bishop have “unilaterally damaged” hopes of improved relations with China.

The Vatican said the events were “unacceptable and hostile” and had caused “a grave loss of the trust that is necessary for overcoming the difficulties and building a correct relationship with the Church for the sake of the common good.”

A communique issued by the Vatican press office Dec. 17 criticized the Chinese-government-controlled National Congress of Catholic Representatives that was held in Beijing Dec. 7-9.

The assembly, in which many bishops, priests, religious and laypeople were forced to take part against their will, came less than three weeks after the ordination of Father Joseph Guo Jincai as bishop of Chengde; his was the first ordination of a bishop without papal approval in four years.

The Vatican said the methods of convoking the assembly reflected “a repressive attitude with regard to the exercise of religious liberty.”

Forcing people to attend the congress represented a “grave violation” of people’s human rights, particularly their freedom of conscience and religion.