ROME – For seventy years, the Vatican and China have had no formal diplomatic relations, Catholicism remains under pressure in the country, and a share of the twelve million Catholics living there profess their faith clandestinely. Recently, credible rumors of a deal with China have been resurfacing.
According to Vatican officials, the accord would hand the Chinese government a considerable degree of control over the nomination of bishops, a thorny issue in the relationship between the two states. It would seem that the upcoming deal would allow the Chinese government to choose the bishops, which the pope would then have a chance to veto.
“The Holy See works to find a synthesis of truth, and a practical way to answer the legitimate expectations of the faithful, inside and outside of China,” said the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in an interview with the Italian news outlet La Stampa.
“We need more caution and moderation on behalf of everyone in order to not fall into sterile criticisms that hurt communion and rob us of the hope of a better future,” he added.
Though the deal with China would not be the first time that the Vatican has compromised its power over the appointment of bishops to obtain a greater goal, the move has been criticized by those who view it as “selling out” the Chinese Catholics to the government, such as the former Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen.
According to Father Bernardo Cervellera, director of the agency Asia Newsof the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, the deal with China would be damaging in a unique way compared to previous agreements with other countries.
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