St. Louis, Mo., Oct 26, 2022 / 14:30 pm
A commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) says the commission is “tremendously disappointed” with the Vatican’s Oct. 22 decision to renew for another two years its provisional agreement with the Chinese government on episcopal appointments.
“I certainly understand as a Catholic that the Vatican is playing the long game here and not thinking about the immediate circumstances, but I think that these agreements have not produced any improvement in religious freedom for Catholics in China, and I think that the Holy See should really rethink its decision to dance with [President Xi Jinping] on this whole business,” USCIRF Commissioner Stephen Schneck said in a recent interview with Crux.
USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government agency that advises the U.S. government and investigates religious freedom violations around the world. The commission has been outspoken that China’s actions against the Uyghurs and other minorities in China’s northwest region of Xinjiang constitute genocide, an assertion that has drawn condemnation and sanctions from China.
The provisional agreement between the Vatican and China gives the Chinese Communist Party — which is officially atheist — a say in the appointment of bishops. That deal was meant to unify the country’s 12 million Catholics, who are divided between the underground Church, which is persecuted and loyal to Rome, and the communist-administered Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.