ONLY a year ago, a great diplomatic breakthrough—the exchange of
ambassadors between the world’s largest church and the world’s most
populous country—seemed to be in the offing. Now the mood between China
and the Holy See is as bad as it has been for half a century.
On July 14th China’s state-backed Catholic hierarchy, which the
Vatican does not recognise, held a three-hour ceremony to consecrate a
bishop in the city of Shantou. This was the third time in eight months
that a hierarch had been elevated in defiance of the pope. What gave the
latest rite a nasty taste was the reported abduction by police of four
Rome-aligned bishops who were then pressed to take part in the ceremony.
One dissident bishop was “seen sobbing as he was dragged” from home,
according to AsiaNews, a Vatican-linked news service.
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