A Shanghai bishop said the Vatican and the Chinese authorities have tacitly agreed to close the schism in the Shanghai diocese by agreeing to his successor, who will be formally appointed auxiliary bishop next week, reported the Associated Press.
Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian, who is officially recognized by the Chinese government, told the AP that the Vatican has also indicated that it would not recognize a successor to Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang.
Bishop Fan is recognized as Shanghai bishop by the underground church. He reportedly suffers from Alzheimer's disease and has been under house arrest for the past five years.
The AP reported that the Vatican had no immediate comment on the appointment.
China ordered Catholics to sever ties with the Vatican in 1951 and worship only in the government-sanctioned church, which numbers about four million. However, foreign experts say up to 12 million worship in the unofficial, or underground, church that still has ties to Rome.
Bishop Jin, who was imprisoned or in labor camps for 27 years on charges of being an “international spy” for the Vatican, is quoted as saying that both China and the Vatican must compromise to normalize relations.
The Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, told Vatican Radio Wednesday that establishing ties was possible, but would take “good will and a spirit of friendship.”
“In my view there aren't insurmountable difficulties. However, you have to move with care,” he said.