Shanghai bishop calls on faithful to support Chinese Community Party’s ‘sinicization’ of Church  

“This means to provide the explanations of theological classics, doctrines, and canons that align with the requirements of socialist core values. Through cultural infusion, the Church incorporates elements and characteristics of Chinese culture in Church liturgy, architecture, arts, and more; aiming to establish a Catholic theological framework with Chinese characteristics, which can be used as a guide to put sinicization of Catholicism into practice,” Shen said. 

Shen serves as the vice chairman of the state-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and is chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCAA) — the episcopal conference of the state-sanctioned Church, a body not recognized by the Holy See. 

Shen made waves when he was unilaterally appointed as bishop of Shanghai in April without a papal mandate, thereby breaking the terms of the contested Sino-Vatican Accord. While the text of the accord is secret, it regulates the appointment of bishops of the mainland — and stipulates that episcopal appointments require approval from both the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China. The provisional agreement first went into effect in 2018 and was subsequently renewed in 2020 and 2022. It will be up for renewal, for a third time, in 2024. 

Shen was officially installed as bishop of Shanghai on July 15, when Pope Francis decided to retroactively approve his appointment. 

The Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Holy Father’s decision was made to “heal the canonical irregularity.” He also said the “intention is fundamentally pastoral” and will allow the bishop to “work with greater serenity to promote evangelization and foster ecclesial communion.”

Shen’s recent comments come after he gave an extensive, 15-page interview with the diocesan magazine of Shanghai in October where he again emphasized the importance of implementing sinicization for the Church in China. 

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