China says Vatican criticism `imprudent`, `dangerous`

China on Wednesday rejected as "imprudent" and "dangerous" the Vatican`s criticism of Beijing`s religious appointments, which are not recognised by the pope.

Last Updated: Dec 23, 2010, 00:07 AM IST

Beijing: China on Wednesday rejected as "imprudent"
and "dangerous" the Vatican`s criticism of Beijing`s religious
appointments, which are not recognized by the Pope.

The Vatican had condemned the national Congress of
Chinese Catholics which elected the new leadership of China`s
Catholic Church.

It had had accused Beijing of "unacceptable and hostile
acts".

A spokesperson for the State Administration for Religious
Affairs (SARA) said that the Vatican`s criticism was very
imprudent and ungrounded.

The Chinese bishops elected a new chairman -- Bishop
Fang Xingyao -- of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association,
which controls the state-backed church, as well as a new
leader of the council of Chinese bishops.

The spokesperson said the senior leaders of the two
organisations were elected with a majority of the vote,
reflecting the will of the congress`s representatives.

The Vatican had also criticised the ordination last
month of a priest in the northern Chinese city of Chengde,
which it had not approved.

In condemning the elected leadership, the Vatican had
trampled and shown its contempt for the democratic will of
Catholic clergy and laymen in China, the spokesperson said,
adding that the condemnation was extremely arbitrary and rude.

The spokesperson said the congress, which is held every
five years to amend the CCPA`s and BCCCC`s constitutions,
elect a new leadership and set future agenda, does not deal
with Catholic doctrines or violate the fundamental Catholic
faith, and "there is no question of getting recognition by any
foreign organization or state."

China`s religious freedom was protected by the Chinese
Constitution, and it was a misinterpretation by the Vatican to
declare the incompatibility of Catholic doctrine and the
Chinese Catholic church`s principle of independent
self-governance, the spokesperson said.

China`s Constitution grants Chinese citizens freedom of
religious beliefs, but requires independence of religious
organizations and affairs in China from foreign influence.

Under this constitutional provision, the Catholic Church
and other religions in China adhered to the principle of
self-governance and self-support, the spokesperson said.

"Has the Vatican not read the two constitutions? Or is it
obscuring the boundary between faith and politics on purpose?"
The spokesperson said.

The spokesperson, according to the state-run Xinhua news
agency called the Vatican`s practice of seeking to push
political ideology through religious belief "very dangerous"
and warned it could have serious percussions for the Catholic
Church`s development in China.

The congress, which was established over 50 years ago, is
a democratic assembly for Chinese Catholics that has the full
respect from the Chinese government, the spokesperson said.

The Vatican has resorted to various methods to prevent
the Congress convening in recent years, including by
threatening to "punish" the Chinese Catholic clergy who attend
it, the spokesperson asked.

PTI