BEIJING, APRIL 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Chinese Patriotic Association said it will "cautiously and seriously" select the successor of Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan, the state-approved prelate who died on Friday.
Bishop Fu, who died of lung cancer, was appointed by the Patriotic Association in 1979, without Rome's approval.
Last year, three illicit episcopal ordinations further complicated hopes for the re-establishment of ties between China and the Vatican, which were severed in 1951.
According to the South China Morning Post, the vice chairman of the Patriotic Association said that Bishop Fu's greatest wish was the normalization of ties with the Vatican.
However, the official reiterated China's conditions for establishing diplomatic ties with the Holy See: severing relations with Taiwan and "not meddling with internal affairs," which China understands to include the naming of bishops.
Benedict XVI has said he'll write a letter to Chinese Catholics. And after a Vatican study earlier this year of the Church's situation in China, there is talk that a commission will be established to further evaluate the issue.