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Hong Kong cardinal says Vatican deal with China 'evil'

AFP  |  Hong Kong 

A war of words between a and the escalated today with the outspoken calling the Pope's warming ties to Communist "evil".

and the severed diplomatic relations in 1951, and although ties have improved in recent years as China's Catholic population has grown, they remain at odds over which side has the authority to ordain bishops.

The relaunched long-stalled negotiations three years ago and now seems to be nearing concrete steps towards solving the major stumbling block of how to designate bishops.

The issue has flared up again after two underground Chinese bishops, recognised by the pope, were asked by a top to resign in favour of state-sanctioned prelates, including one who was excommunicated by the Vatican in 2011.

Joseph Zen, emeritus of semi-autonomous and a staunch opponent of any rapprochement between the Vatican and Beijing, last month accused the Holy See of "selling out" to by reportedly promoting bishops endorsed by the

On Friday, the stepped up his rhetoric again.

"I am not objecting to an imperfect agreement -- that I can accept -- but not an evil one, not one that runs counter to the principle of our church," Zen said on a local radio programme.

"They say they are doing it step by step, and yes it's fine to do it step by step, but you can't make a sinful step," he added.

China's roughly 12 million Catholics are divided between a government-run association, whose clergy are chosen by the Communist Party, and an unofficial church which swears allegiance to the Vatican.

The secretive negotiations between the two sides could come down to the Vatican recognising some of the bishops chosen by the Chinese in exchange for a more benevolent attitude from

Zen revealed earlier that he had appealed to the pope in a private meeting in last month, where he delivered a letter from one of the bishops who was asked to step aside, Zhuang Jianjian.

The did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 09 2018. 17:50 IST