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BEIJING, Dec 23 (Agencies): T
Rift widens as China lashes out at Pope
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Published on 23 Dec. 2010 11:31 PM IST
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The Chinese government has challenged the role played by the Pope and suggested that the Vatican was misguiding Catholics in the country. The statement, which follows Vatican’s criticism of the official church in China, indicated an intensification of the old conflict between the two sides.
“Who is actually using coercive measures and demanding Catholics betray their conscience? Isn’t it crystal clear?” a spokesman of the State Administration for Religious Affairs said Wednesday. He was responding to Vatican’s criticism of the decision of the official church to anoint a Bishop after a recent meeting.
Pope Benedict XVI recently accused China of violating religious freedom and told Catholic bishops not to attend a meeting of the pro-government church early this month. The official church went ahead with the meeting in December 7-9, and the Vatican followed up its earlier statement by criticizing the constitution of the two official organizations, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China.
“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 pro-government church claimed the meeting was attended by 64 bishops, 162 priests, 24 nuns and 91 other church members. The meeting also amended the constitution of two government-backed organizations, The meeting was meant to elect a new leadership and set future agenda.
The constitution of the two organizations does not violate the fundamental Catholic faith, and “there is no question of getting recognition by any foreign organization or state,” the government spokesman said.

 
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