Published: Mon, September 24, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Pope Francis recognizes seven Chinese-appointed bishops - Vatican

Pope Francis recognizes seven Chinese-appointed bishops - Vatican

China and the Vatican signed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops Saturday in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

It is thought in future bishops will be proposed by the Chinese authorities and then approved by the Pope, the BBC's James Reynolds reports from Rome.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke played down any suggestion that the accord could have wider political implications, even though it marks a breakthrough on an issue which has bedevilled relations with China for years.

The deal resolved one of the major sticking points in recent years, with the Vatican agreeing to accept seven bishops who were previously named by Beijing without the pope's consent.

The agreement follows "a gradual and reciprocal rapprochement (and) has been agreed following a long process of careful negotiation and foresees the possibility of periodic reviews of its application", the Vatican said in a statement issued as Pope Francis visits the Baltic states.

The estimated 12 million chinese catholics very much in the minority in this country of 1.5 billion people - are torn for decades between a "patriotic" Church controlled by the communist regime, and an underground Church that recognizes only the authority of the pope.

Pope Francis hopes the deal "will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome" and bring about full Catholic unity in China, the Vatican said.

However, diplomats have said the accord was a possible precursor to a resumption in diplomatic relations with Beijing after 70 years. An agreement might improve the position of Catholics and the level of freedom in religion in China, MOFA stated, according to the Central News Agency.

The deal gives the Holy See a decisive role in the appointment of all bishops in the country.

Many years the relationship between Beijing and the Vatican have been strained due to the fact that the Holy see is the only European subject of global law, maintains direct diplomatic relations with Taiwan. A few bishops appointed by Rome will cede their places to bishops who had been appointed by the Vatican.

In an interview with Reuters in Hong Kong on Thursday night before Parolin spoke at the Vatican, Zen, in a highly personal attack on the pope's right-hand man, said Parolin should resign. Tibetan children have been moved from Buddhist temples to schools and banned from religious activities during summer holidays, state-run media have reported.

"The consequences will be tragic and long lasting, not only for the church in China but for the whole church because it damages the credibility", he added.

Beijing generally requires states that develop ties with China, sever formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. "This is not the end of a process". If not, "both sides will engage in a dialogue, and Beijing would eventually be expected to submit the name of another candidate".

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