China and Vatican to Sign Breakthrough Bishop Deal
By Mei Manuel, February 05, 2018 23:02 PM
On Thursday, February 1, a senior Vatican source shared that China and the Vatican are close into signing a special framework accord regarding bishop appointments which may improve relations between both parties.
China and the Vatican has been at odds with one another for the past 70 years with regards to this issue, especially after the Vatican's relations with China was cut during the Communist takeover.
Should the relations between both countries normalize, it will provide the Vatican a clear framework to monitor China's 12 million Catholics and bolster Catholic growth in a country which has a large number of Protestant churches.
At the present time, Catholics in China are split into two groups - the "underground" communities who support the Vatican and those under the Catholic Patriotic Association.
Once the deal is finished, Vatican would be able to influence proceedings on how future bishops are selected.
According to the source, "It is not a great agreement but we don't know what the situation will be like in 10 or 20 years. It could even be worst."
The source also rejected accusations from a senior cardinal that the Vatican is prepared to "Sell out" the Church in China and media reports that Pope Francis is not familiar with the negotiation. The source said that the Pope is regularly following up the China dossier and even backed an offer made by two Chinese bishops supporting the Vatican where they would take on important positions in their respective dioceses to facilitate the agreement with the government-backed bishops.
At least five of the seven issues have already been resolved according to the source. The "illegitimate bishops" have also asked for pardon from the Pope and asked if they could be made legitimate in the Church.
In response to the reports regarding the issue, the Chinese Foreign Ministry shared on Friday that they are sincere in their efforts to improve relations with the Holy See.
In their statement, the foreign ministry said "We are willing to, in accordance with relevant principles, continue to engage in constructive dialogue with the Vatican side and push forward the improvement of bilateral ties."
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