China rejects Vatican's criticism as very imprudent, ungrounded

19:27, December 22, 2010      

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A spokesperson of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) on Wednesday said Vatican's criticism of the recent national congress of Chinese Catholics was very imprudent and ungrounded.

In a statement dated Dec. 17, the Vatican condemned the congress, which elected the new leadership of China's Catholic church, and accused China of violating religious freedom.

The congress from Dec. 7 to 9 elected the heads and other senior members of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) and the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC).

The spokesperson said the congress, which is held every five years to amend the CCPA 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."

The spokesperson said 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.

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.

The CCPA and the BCCCC endorsed this principle in their new constitutions adopted at the congress, he said.

"The BCCCC fulfills her Pastoral Mission at the Faith and Evangelization according to the power and authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit endowed upon His Disciples," said the BCCCC's constitution.

On the dogma and moral teachings of the Church, the constitution said the BCCCC is "in union with the Successor of St. Peter, the Head of the community of the Disciples."

"Has the Vatican not read the two constitutions, or is it obscuring the boundary between faith and politics on purpose?" the spokesperson said in response to Vatican's declaration of the incompatibility of the constitutions with Catholic doctrine.

The spokesperson called the Vatican's practice of seeking to pushing political ideology through religious belief "very dangerous" and warned it could have serious percussions for the Catholic church's development in China.

Source: Xinhua
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