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Pope Francis says he hopes Vatican-China deal will be renewed

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

A man waves China's flag as Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 22, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2022 / 04:49 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said he hopes the Vatican’s provisional agreement with China on the appointment of Catholic bishops will be renewed for the second time in October.

In comments to Reuters published Tuesday, the pope said “the agreement is moving well and I hope that in October it can be renewed.”

The Vatican-China agreement was first signed in September 2018 and then renewed for another two years in October 2020. The terms of the agreement have not been made public.

Pope Francis spoke to Reuters about the China deal in a 90-minute interview which also covered his health, resignation rumors, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

In September 2021, the Vatican confirmed that the sixth Catholic bishop had been ordained under the agreement’s terms.

Seven bishops ordained before the 2018 agreement have also had their positions regularized by the Vatican.

Pope Francis said the appointment of bishops under the deal in China “is going slowly, but they are being appointed.”

The slow process, he said, is “‘the Chinese way,’ because the Chinese have that sense of time that nobody can rush them.”

Father Bernardo Cervellera, former editor-in-chief of AsiaNews, told CNA last year that the bishops who have been nominated and ordained are close to the Patriotic Catholic Association, “so this means that they are very near to the government.”

The Catholic Church is still in need of around 40 more bishops in China, according to Cervellera.

In the Reuters interview, Pope Francis said the Chinese “also have their own problems because it is not the same situation in every region of the country. [The treatment of Catholics] also depends on local leaders.”

He also defended the Vatican-China deal against its critics.

“Diplomacy is the art of the possible and of doing things to make the possible become a reality,” he said.

He compared today’s critics and those who spoke negatively of the Vatican’s diplomatic decisions during the Cold War, when the popes struck deals with Eastern European communist governments in an attempt to protect the interests of the Catholic Church.

“Diplomacy is like that. When you face a blocked situation, you have to find the possible way, not the ideal way, out of it,” the pope said.

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  1. More of the same skulduggery or a hopeful intent for a Church seemingly battered from both sides of the equation. Cardinal Zen is the only trustworthy voice on China Vatican relations. The Church in China has been severely compromised in messaging Christ, a Christ flagrantly disfigured with Communist ideology. That can’t ever be justly agreed to by Christianity if it is to remain faithful to Christ.
    Roman Catholicism has been seriously compromised by scandal and mixed messaging. An accord as permitted by the Vatican simply reinforces a diminishment of what Catholicism is.

    • A fitting testimony to our Lord and Saviour.

      2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

      Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

      1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

      Psalm 27:3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

      Blessings upon blessings, dear pastor and brother in Christ.

      • Geopolitics is not his strong suit. But, then again, I can’t think what is. It seems he has a better relationship with the Chinese communists than he does with some fellow Catholics. I can’t recall him calling the ChiComs nasty names.

        • After all, according to his lackey Sorondo, “Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese.”

          • Thanks for pointing out. What an absolute travesty—a tyrannical, atheistic and freedom destroying regime the best at implementing the Church’s social doctrine??!

  2. The ways of men, the traditions of people.

    The value of the eternal soul and the shortness of time.

    To be much in prayer that the gospel goes forward, redeeming souls and changing lives to the better.

  3. The Vatican’s sell-out of the Chinese Catholic Church in this “provisional agreement” is drenched in the blood of untold numbers of Chinese Catholics martyrs already sacrificed to the Chinese Communist Party and likely that of untold numbers more. In the entire 2,000-year-old history of the Church there is no papal act of “diplomacy” so craven, so heinous, and, yes, so diabolical as this. Those responsible for it, from Bergoglio and Parolin down, have ineradicably shamed and soiled the Throne of Peter and Secretariat of State in whose seats of honor they squat. No less astonishing is the near-universal silence from the world’s hireling shepherds at this outrage and at those who have perpetrated it.

    • Who will stand up for the church? It will be men of courage who will rebuke other men in high position that are not taking their responsibility to heart.

      1 Timothy 5:20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

      2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

      2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

      John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

      God bless you.

  4. Not a beep from the Vatican when churches are destroyed, when bishops, priests and laity are arrested and sent to torture camps in China. Bergoglio and Parolin have blood on their hands and it is crying out to heaven.

    • You stand on the Lord’s side. He gives strength to those who love Him.

      Haggai 2:4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts,

      Proverbs 1:33 But whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

      Psalm 93:5 Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore.


  5. The Holy Father is optimistic; however, the curial team and the timing may be off (putting it diplomatically) and inevitably the one acts on the other.

    But I have a major query nonetheless, which is, if it is truly the case that the Church during the Cold War let the Communist authorities anywhere appoint bishops for her and she complied. It wouldn’t be the only time I would have spotted a false comparison (putting it diplomatically).

    I would think that the Holy Father would wish to distinguish his interests in China from the current of world affairs -great; but (putting it diplomatically) if the Chinese are ambivalent about that, it becomes part of the problem.

  6. ‘ Jesus , I trust in Thee’ – to break the walls around hearts …to bring forth the abundant harvest of the hard work of the missionaries who worked in these far away lands in years past, even centuries past … their prayers and love for the people to be far more powerful than the plottings and designs of even the demonic wisdom in persons who think they hold the power ..The Flame of Love of The Mother, to blind Satan ..
    The Precious Blood to put to death the bestial passions and bring New Life of holiness … Bl.Mother sharing the graces of the Immaculate Conception , to take in the Holy Spirit Love , even unto the very beginnings of life, to thus become persons who rejoice in loving God , with His Love …to drive out the spirit of envy and its manifestations, that originated in The Garden , that afflict many both near and far , to help all such to seek out the Reign of the Divine Will … willing to allow the afflicted to be around , even as The Lord allowed the weak and sinful to be around , their very presence and trials , as a thorn in the flesh , to be the reminder of the urgency of the need all around .. pleading for the Holy Spirit , desiring all of The Church too to see the need , conveying the desires of the Heart of The Mother and of The Lord .. trusting in what The Spirit can do ..and that deeper trust to make the diffrencce in many wounds in lives of all – from which none are spared in these times ..for the promise that all things work well for those who Love God ..

  7. How long, O Lord, must we wait?

    From Tuesday’s liturgy: “At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved to pity for them for they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”

    O Lord, how long?

  8. O Lord, how long, must we wait?

    “At the sight of the crowds his heart was moved to pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”

    O Lord, how long?

  9. I have no doubt that Pope Francis will do the best he can for the Catholics when dealing with the ruthless leaders in China. The Church there needs Bishops.
    Recently, I read a post from a Catholic man in China in which he praised our Pope’s actions and hoped that people would stop looking at the deal from a western point of view. He said that unifying the Catholics in China was of paramount importance.
    Pope Francis is not our Lord’s enemy. He is, in fact, a very faithful disciple, nay, Apostle who has devoted his life to serving the Lord and his Church.

    • If the reality turns out to be that the Provisional Agreement is not at the service of the Church, the Body of Christ, then 1. it will have to go and 2. it will get found out; and 2. could happen first. Anyone can help expose it, whether from among members of the Church or people and groups not of the Church. You can be certain that Divine Providence will guide the Church in what must take place: have no doubt on it.

  10. Here and there Xi Jinping unifies his thought in one expression, his 2017 New Year’s message carrying one such kernel. But if you read the whole message you will find the separate elements that outline and demonstrate the CPC’s plan of control.

    ‘ As one saying goes, ‘success comes to those who share in one purpose’. As long as our 1.3 billion-plus people are pulled together for a common cause, as long as the Party stands together with the people and we roll up our sleeves to work harder, we will surely succeed in a Long March of our generation. ‘

  11. The quotation “politics is the art of the possible” is from Otto von Bismark, who added, “the attainable, or the next best”. It would seem that the Holy Father has adapted “diplomacy” to the wording.

    The rationale for the Provisional Agreement could well be that the Holy See is trying practical means for “transitioning from conflict”. Natural sense suggests, however, that the “scene” for this is such as that which existed before Xi Jinping came to power. In other words, a Maoist has entered the picture, ending these days; and the feelings and bon vivant and making alliance that may have been burgeoning beforehand have lost any realistic grounding. Things collapsed.

    Bearing in mind too, Mao said of politics, “war is politics with bloodshed and politics is war without bloodshed.”

    Cardinal Zen in the interview in eBooks (see link) describes how things were when the Chinese in China left their doors open to their houses and how easy it was to get to Hong Kong. Today this is gone. Demonstrations of Maoism are all there, the strong-arming, the repressing of the “theory” of Deng Xiaoping and the elevation (even inside churches) -almost worship – of the “thought” of Xi Jinping.

    Deng Xiaoping opened society and XI Jinping has now overlaid onto it the “progress” of “China’s Long March” ….. while reversing Deng. The question arises, do those who share the platform of the Provisional Agreement really know who they are dealing with, what they are looking for and what they can realistically expect to meet or produce?

    The area of peace-craft known as transition justice is for that time when organized violence is crumbling and there has been a meeting of minds on how settlements are going to be arrived at even if not to be immediately concluded; and how interim investigations will be respected. See for example, South Africa, Rwanda, Columbia. This is not where China is.

    It could then be wrong on this point ALSO, to input the suggestion that “China has different parts”. Well, yes, of course China does, but at this time you are helping to plant more tares. You hope that in the long run the “tares will convert into wheat” -maybe. Cardinal Zen asked pertinently, how can schismatics appoint bishops.

    Another angle of view is being able to identify distortions caused by cult of personality. For instance, Gandhi’s renown for pacifism actually re-frames the reality of the history of his very conscious purpose of leading an active nationalism intended to be brought to victory at all costs; and of standing for it implacably. He said, “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put a cloak of non-violence over it to cover impotence.”

    The Holy See wants to join with the “strength” and “brightness” of “movement” in the Far East and “extend goodwill” but can it be right that it sidelines its spiritual primacy? While helping propagate Marxism that is not even a Chinese thing and never was and never will be? With no idea who will succeed?

    As I have said, when the Holy Spirit brings truth to bear, those who have been involved will, indeed, have to give answer to God Almighty. No-one will be exempted. I have always hoped for the best for the Holy Father’s initiative in China. I have my notes on it still and my prayers. But all the same, I must add, we mustn’t be naive and we mustn’t ignore the the light of Heaven when it may be showing us to make a change or to at least notice when we must look again, in the light. (Cardinal Zen/Al Jazeera interview, YOUTUBE)

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