China Holy See Agreement
He reminded his audience that after decades of negotiations, the agreement is not just “a point of arrival”; it is above all “a starting point” for the Church in China and Sino-Vatican relations. The Holy See and the Beijing government have jointly announced a two-year extension of the 2018 agreement, which expires on Thursday. Nevertheless, the Vatican can be expected to try to resolve some of these problems with Beijing over the next two years. Prior to the signing of the interim agreement, China had refused to answer these questions by stating that these were questions for further discussion. However, since the signing of the agreement, only two bishops have been appointed in China and their appointments had been agreed long before by both sides. An informed source told the U.S. that more episcopal appointments would be announced shortly. However, even taking into account the situation created by Covid-19, which began in late 2019 in China but now appears to be under control, the delay in processing appointments has prompted some observers to question Beijing`s political will to implement its part of the agreement. For their part, senior Vatican diplomats have acknowledged that the agreement is far from perfect, but do not seem ready to make the perfect enemy of everything it can do if one proceeds in the defined direction. “My main objection to the agreement is that we don`t know what it is,” said U.S.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, the de facto leader of Pope Francis` criticism in the church, in a brief interview, before welcoming Pompeo to an event hosted by the U.S. Embassy at the Vatican last month. The agreement reflects the Chinese government`s long-standing desire to end the Holy See`s recognition of the Taiwanese government, even as Secretary-General Xi Jinping`s Communist Party of China continues the campaign launched in spring 2018 to strengthen control of foreign religious institutions.  In October 2018, Chinese local authorities destroyed two Marian shrines, one in Shanxi and the other in Guizhou.  In an article published in L`Osservatore Romano on the day of the announcement of the extension, the “priority objective” of the agreement on the appointment of bishops in China is to “maintain and promote the proclamation of the Gospel in this country and to restore the full and visible unity of the Church.” He added that “the main motivations” that guide the Holy See in its dialogue with the Chinese authorities “are fundamentally ecclesiological and pastoral,” because the issue of the appointment of bishops “is essential for the life of the Church, both locally and universally.” According to the article, this “will gradually ensure that the unity of faith and communion among bishops progress,” thus serving the Catholic community in China. He stressed that under the agreement, for the first time since 1958, when the first illegal ordinations took place in China, “all bishops in China are in communion with the “Bishop of Rome” and “there will be no more illegitimate ordinations.” The continuation of the agreement and cooperation between the two states have led some Vatican experts to consider it a decisive step on the road to diplomatic relations with Beijing, which could mean that the Vatican would sever relations with Taiwan. On September 17, 2020, foreign policy journalist Benedict Rogers revealed that China was no longer imposing the terms of the 2018 agreement, which was only valid for two years.  The agreement is “exclusively the issue of the appointments of bishops” and does not address other matters “that still concern the Church.” Speech in Milan on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first P.I.M.E.