It's a secret Pope Francis hopes can be renewed. That's how the Pope referred to the controversial deal struck between the Vatican and Beijing in 2018 on naming Roman Catholic bishops in the country. It's not ideal, Pope Francis said in an interview with Reuters, but he hopes that it can be renewed in October as the Church takes a long-term view of the situation.
A failure to renew the deal would sink the Vatican's entire diplomatic strategy with China over the last decade, says writer and Vatican journalist Massimo Franco.
Vatican journalist, “Il Corriere della Sera”
The Pope has invested heavily in recent years in his relationship with Russia on matters of Orthodoxy and inter-religious dialogue, and with China on the secret and limited agreement he made to coordinate the appointment of some bishops. The paradox and contradiction is that today the Pope is cut off from dialogue both by a Russia that has attacked Ukraine and by a China that not only supports, at least so far Russia, but has arrested Cardinal Zen, the Archbishop emeritus of Hong Kong, in some way sending a terrible sign of the détente between the Vatican and China after the agreement.
The arrest of 90-year-old Cardinal Zen in May was swiftly condemned by the Holy See before he was released on bail several hours later. The Cardinal is a fierce critic of the Vatican's deal with China, which he says causes Rome to turn a blind eye to China's continuous human rights violations.