Vatican City, Oct 22, 2020 / 03:00 am
The Vatican and China have renewed a provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops for two more years, the Holy See announced Thursday.
An Oct. 22 Vatican communique said that the Chinese government and Vatican authorities agreed “to extend the experimental implementation phase” of the two-year provisional agreement first signed on Sept. 22, 2018, concerning the nomination of bishops. It added that the two parties intended to pursue “an open and constructive dialogue.”
“The Holy See considers the initial application of the agreement -- which is of great ecclesial and pastoral value -- to have been positive, thanks to good communication and cooperation between the parties on the matters agreed upon, and intends to pursue an open and constructive dialogue for the benefit of the life of the Catholic Church and the good of Chinese people,” the communique said.
An article in L’Osservatore Romano Oct. 22 lauded the results of the agreement, saying that “processes for new episcopal appointments are underway, some at an early stage, others at an advanced stage.”
It reported that two bishops had already been appointed under the “regulatory framework established by the agreement”: Bishop Antonio Yao Shun, of Jining Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia, and Bishop Stefano Xu Hongwei, of Hanzhong in Shaanxi Province.
“It must be acknowledged that there are many situations of great suffering. The Holy See is deeply aware of this, takes it into account and does not fail to attract the attention of the Chinese government to encourage a more fruitful exercise of religious freedom. The path is still long and not without difficulties,” the Vatican newspaper said.
Following the Vatican-China agreement in 2018, state officials in different regions of China removed crosses and demolished church buildings, and underground Catholics and clergy have reported harassment and detention. A 2020 report of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China found that Chinese Catholics suffered “increasing persecution” after the deal.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told journalists Oct. 21 that he was “happy” with the agreement. But he acknowledged “there are also many other problems that the agreement was not intended to solve.”