Hong Kong Cardinal sends strong message to China over 'illegitimate' ordinations

 Cardinal Zen, head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, has urged the Vatican to end its search for a compromise with Beijing. In an interview with the BBC after a visit to Rome, the Cardinal said the ordinations last year of three bishops without Vatican approval were "illegitimate" and "acts of war". "How can you say that we opt for confrontation? They are waging a war, they want to destroy the church," he said. China refuses to recognise the Vatican's authority over Chinese Catholics. But until three state-approved ordinations, without Vatican consent, took lace in 2006, bishops were chosen after unofficial consultations with Rome. In the BBC interview Cardinal Zen said the ordinations represented the overturning of two decades of compromise efforts. Last month, China's state-backed Church welcomed an olive branch extended by the Vatican, which had issued a statement calling for "respectful and constructive dialogue" to normalize ties. The Vatican recognizes Beijing's diplomatic rival Taiwan, and China's 10 million Catholics are divided between an underground church loyal to the Holy See and the state-approved church that respects the Pope as a spiritual figurehead but rejects effective papal control. The Holy Father is believed to be sending a letter to the Chinese authorities in April, setting out the Vatican's position.

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