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Vatican signs historic deal with China over appointment of bishops


The Vatican has signed a historic deal with China on a procedure for appointing Catholic bishops.

The “Provisional Agreement” was signed today in Beijing, “within the framework of the contacts between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China that have been underway for some time.”

According the Vatican, “it is the fruit of a gradual and reciprocal rapprochement, and has been agreed following a long process of careful negotiation, and foresees the possibility of periodic reviews of its application.”

“It concerns the nomination of Bishops, a question of great importance for the life of the Church, and creates the conditions for greater collaboration at the bilateral level.”

The shared hope is that this agreement may favor a fruitful and forward-looking process of institutional dialogue and may contribute positively to the life of the Catholic Church in China, to the common good of the Chinese people and to peace in the world.”

Greg Burke, the pope's spokesman added that “this has been about dialogue, patient listening on both sides even when people come from very different standpoints.”

According Mr. Burke, “the objective of the accord is not political but pastoral, allowing the faithful to have bishops wha are in communion with Rome but at the same time recognized by Chinese authorities.

At the end of December 2017, the number of bishops in China was 101; of these, 65 belong to the “patriotic” community that is recognized by the Chinese authorities; and 36 belong to the “underground” community.

There are some 12 million Catholics in China.