bishop the Vatican opposes, an official warned Friday, May 12.

Zhan Silu, also called Vincent Zhan, will become bishop of Mindong Diocese in eastern Fujian province, and he — like two other bishops appointed in China in past weeks — apparently lacks the approval of the Vatican, and the Chinese ‘underground’ Catholic house church movement. 
"I did write to the Vatican to ask for recognition, but I’ve never heard anything back," Zhan said in published remarks Friday, May 11. "For me, Vatican approval is important, but I also have to consider local needs," he said
Zhan’s impending appointment is the in the battle for control over China’s estimated 10 million Catholics, most of whom are gathering in ‘house churches’, named this way as they are often held in residences of believers who lack permissions to gather in church buildings.
China and the Vatican, have been exploring diplomatic ties after decades of division since the Chinese Communists won control of the mainland in 1949. Friday’s row came on the heels of a gathering between Bush and a group of Chinese House Church representatives, the first such meeting between a sitting US president and ‘underground’ Christians.
At his private residence in the White House Thursday, May 11, "Bush, along with Vice-President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton, and the President’s senior Advisor, Michael Gerson and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow were informed about the true situation in China," sources close to the talks told BosNewsLife.
Bush and the officials learned of "the latest development of religious freedom in China," said China Aid Association (CAA) which has close contacts with house churches.
The three house church delegates meeting Bush were named as Yu Jie who is a best-seller author and Elder of Beijing Ark House Church, Wang Yi, a religious freedom defender and professor of law at Chengdu University in Sichuan province and Dr. Li Baiguang, who was named "Person of the Year in Asia in 2005" for "his brave civil education work for the rule of law among the farmers and religious minority groups." The underground Protestant churches they represent have been hit for months by a government crackdown in which many movement leaders have been arrested, church sources say.
During the talks Bush, a self-declared ‘born-again Christian’ shared how his faith helps him in his life, CAA said. The meeting lasted for one hour, 30 minutes longer than previously scheduled, end ended with President Bush’s prayer for the Chinese guests and the Chinese people, the group added.
Bush has often criticized China’s record on human rights and religious freedom and the Chinese delegates said they were pleased with "his personal commitment to promote" these freedoms and "share their vision for a peaceful transition of China towards…democratization." Across the countries hundreds and possible thousands of Protestant as well as Catholic Christians have been arrested, harassed, detained and tortured, human rights groups claim, and some individuals were reportedly killed for their faith in Christ

Each of the three Chinese representatives expressed their belief that Chinese Christians should follow the example of America’s late Dr. Martin Luther King "to pray for their government leaders and volunteer their service to meet the growing social needs in China and denounce violent uprisings in all forms, " CAA said.
The three Chinese individuals also shared their personal testimonies with the President, BosNewsLife learned. "We deeply appreciate the commitment by President Bush to advance religious freedom in China with this historic meeting" said Rev. Bob Fu, a former house church leader who fled to the United States and currently leads the CAA organization. "It shows the freedom-loving American people are determined to stand firmly with millions of their fellow persecuted brothers and sisters in China," he told BosNewsLife.
China’s government has strongly denied persecuting Christians and say believers are free to worship in the official denominations. However secular and Christian human rights group estimate that most of the 10-million Catholics and up to 70-million Protestant Christians prefer to gather in house-churches as they oppose the Atheist-Communist ideology. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from China and the United States).


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