Vatican Renews Deal Allowing China To Choose Catholic Bishops
October 2022: According to reports from Italian media on Wednesday, the Vatican recently renewed a 2018 agreement with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that allows China to choose the Catholic bishops in the country.
The specifics of the agreement have never been made public, but the Vatican signed a deal with the CCP in September 2018, followed by a two-year extension in October 2020, with another extension this month.
The two parties negotiated the deal in late August and early September during meetings in northern China.
While many have criticized the arrangement as granting too much power to an oppressive regime, the Vatican has insisted that the agreement will be beneficial in the long term.
In recent comments, Pope Francis seemed to blame the lack of immediate progress on China.
“[T]he bilateral Vatican-Chinese commission is going well, slowly, because the Chinese pace is slow, they have an eternity to go forward: they are a people of endless patience,” he stated. “It is not easy to understand the Chinese mentality, but it should be respected, I always respect this.”
“And here in the Vatican, there is a dialogue commission that is going well, chaired by Cardinal Parolin and he is the person right now who knows the most about China and dialogue with the Chinese,” added Pope Francis.
Bishops in the United States responded to the Vatican’s arrangement with China by emphasizing reports of religious persecution committed by the CCP.
“While the Vatican has reached a provisional agreement with China on the issue of episcopal appointments, reports of persecution by the Chinese government persist as underground churches are closed and their priests detained, crosses destroyed, bibles confiscated, and children under 18 forbidden from attending Mass and receiving religious instruction,” the U.S. bishops wrote. “Ultimately time will tell if the faithful will be allowed to practice their religion independent of State control.”
Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen controversially agreed with the U.S. bishops and criticized the agreement due to the confusion created among practicing Catholics. Zen claimed CCP officials were using the confusion as an opportunity to compel Chinese citizens to join the state-sponsored Catholic Patriotic Association.
On Monday, the CCP moved forward with a trial against Zen over funds he raised for pro-democracy protests in 2019. Zen is 90 years old.
(Voice of the Martyrs)