Catholics in Hong Kong held an all-night prayer vigil to protest a proposed deal between the Vatican and Beijing.
More than 200 people gathered in St Bonaventure Church in a residential neighbourhood in the territory to voice their concerns over a deal that critics say would “sell out” faithful Chinese Catholics.
“It’s a precarious situation. There’s a real danger of division,” said one priest at the prayer service told Reuters.
Chinese Catholics are split between those in the “underground” Church who are loyal to the Pope and the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association, which appoints bishops without Rome’s approval.
Sources say that the proposed deal would allow the Vatican a say in the appointment of Chinese bishops in exchange for recognising ones already appointed by the Chinese government.
The vigil came as a group of Catholics signed an open letter warning of “schism” if the deal goes ahead.
The letter says that the bishops appointed by Beijing “do not have the trust of the faithful, and have never repented publicly. If they were to be recognized as legitimate, the faithful in Greater China would be plunged into confusion and pain, and schism would be created in the Church in China.”
“We are worried that the agreement would not only fail to guarantee the limited freedom desired by the Church, but also damage the Church’s holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity, and deal a blow to the Church’s moral power,” the letter adds.
“We earnestly ask you, with the love on the people of God, appeal to the Holy See: Please rethink the current agreement, and stop making an irreversible and regrettable mistake.”