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Cardinal Tagle defends Vatican China deal

October 25, 2022 Catholic News Agency 4

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle speaking at the Vatican on Oct. 21, 2021. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Oct 25, 2022 / 07:50 am (CNA).
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has defended the Vatican’s decision to renew its provisional agreement with Chi… […]

The Dispatch

Newly elected Chinese Church leaders allied with government vow to proceed with sinicization

August 24, 2022 Catholic News Agency 15
Flag of the People’s Republic of China / Yan Ke / Unsplash (CC0)

CNA Newsroom, Aug 24, 2022 / 02:21 am (CNA).

Chinese bishops allied with the government have promised to proceed with the “sinicization” of Catholicism in China.

During a national conference in Wuhan, two organizations elected leaders who vowed to bring the Church in China in line with the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party.

The 10th National Congress of Catholicism in China was attended by 345 Catholic bishops, priests, and religious of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, reported UCA News.

At the end of the three-day gathering, new leaders of the association and of the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) were elected. Both of these organizations are sponsored by the Chinese state. 

The Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China has been split between the government-sanctioned Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the underground Church, which is persecuted and whose episcopal appointments are frequently not acknowledged by Chinese authorities.

The Vatican does not officially recognize the CCPA. The state-sponsored congress is held every five years.

Archbishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing was appointed chairman of the CCPA, while Bishop Joseph Shen Bin of Haimen was elected as the new BCCCC chairman.

The new leaders agreed to continue efforts towards the sinicization of the Church as laid out previously by President Xi Jinping. 

In 2018, the Vatican reached an agreement with the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops in the country; the terms of the deal, which was renewed in October 2020 for two more years, have never been fully revealed. The Sino-Vatican agreement is due to expire on Oct. 22.

Human rights advocates have voiced concerns after Pope Francis said the agreement was “moving well” and should be renewed.

Vatican officials have repeatedly said that the accord between China and the Holy See is focused solely on the appointment of bishops. According to reports, the agreement allows China’s state-sanctioned church (CCPA) to select episcopal candidates, who would then be approved or vetoed by the Holy See. 

In last year’s National Conference on Religious Affairs, the president said that religious practice in China would be brought into line with Marxist views and ideologies. 

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The Dispatch

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

July 5, 2022 Catholic News Agency 20
Pope Francis waves at pilgrims from China at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 7, 2016. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

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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