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Head of China’s state-backed Catholic church begins historic journey to Hong Kong

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HONG KONG — The pinnacle of the Catholic church in China started a visit to Hong Kong on Tuesday on the invitation of the town’s pope-appointed Roman Catholic cardinal, marking the primary official go to by a Beijing bishop in historical past.

Joseph Li, who was put in by China’s state-controlled Catholic church as an archbishop, visited the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception within the morning, public broadcaster RTHK mentioned.

Li’s five-day tour got here after the town’s newly put in Cardinal Stephen Chow invited him to go to Hong Kong throughout a landmark journey to Beijing in April — the primary go to to the Chinese language capital by the town’s bishop in practically three many years. Specialists mentioned the invitation was a symbolic gesture that would strengthen the delicate relationship between China and the Vatican.

Earlier this month, Chow mentioned his job is to foster higher communication between the edges, and underscored the significance of human connections when requested in regards to the significance of Li’s go to.

The Hong Kong diocese mentioned Li would meet with Chow and “totally different diocesan workplaces to advertise exchanges and interactions between the 2 dioceses.” It mentioned that is the primary time a Beijing bishop has formally visited Hong Kong, with out disclosing additional particulars about Li’s journey.

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Beijing and the Vatican severed diplomatic ties in 1951 following the Communist Social gathering’s rise to energy and the expulsion of international clergymen. For the reason that break in ties, Catholics in China have been divided between those that belong to an official, state-sanctioned church and people in an underground church loyal to the pope. The Vatican acknowledges members of each as Catholics however claims the unique proper to decide on bishops.

The Vatican and China signed an accord in 2018 over the thorny challenge of bishop nominations, however Beijing has violated it. Most just lately Pope Francis was compelled to just accept the unilateral appointment of a brand new bishop of Shanghai.

Francis in September insisted that the Vatican’s relations with China have been going properly however mentioned work should nonetheless be completed to indicate Beijing that the Catholic church isn’t beholden to a international energy. Throughout his journey to Mongolia that month, he additionally despatched a particular greeting to China’s “noble” folks, giving them a particular shout-out on the finish of a Mass.

The 2018 settlement has been harshly criticized by Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, who was detained in Could final 12 months on suspicion of colluding with international forces underneath a Beijing-imposed nationwide safety regulation that jailed or silenced many activists. He was launched on bail and has but to be formally charged, however he and 5 others have been fined in a separate case final November for failing to register a now-defunct fund set as much as assist arrested protesters.

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