The Vatican’s recognition is the latest sanation by Rome of a canonically illegal move by the Communist Party controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which has exerted increasingly unilateral control over episcopal appointments in the country, even since the signing of a 2018 deal between the Holy See and Beijing.
That deal was meant to unify the state-sponsored hierarchy with Rome and regularize the status of the country’s underground Catholic Church.
The Vatican’s Saturday announcement of Shen’s papal “appointment” to Shanghai was accompanied by an interview with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, explaining the decision.
While Parolin attempted to frame the Shen decision in positive terms, the cardinal effectively conceded the runaway status of the Church in China, and Rome’s minimal stake in its governance.
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