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ICC Note: Holy See’s efforts to heal relationship with China have stalled as Beijing’s attitude toward religion has hardened and both sides disagree on acceptance of controversial bishops. Beijing has sought to limit the growth of Christianity by exercising control over the construction of churches and ask them to “sinicize” their faith. The stranded relationship hurts underground church the most, leaving them targeted, persecuted, abandoned and overcome.”

09/1/2017 Beijing (ABC News) – The Vatican’s efforts to heal a decades-long rift with China appear to have stalled, with each side still unwilling to accept controversial bishops appointed by the other.

In recent months, Beijing has appeared to take a harder line toward believers, and has ordered the country’s estimated 12 million Catholics to shun foreign influence and to “Sinosize” their Church.

Meanwhile, the ruling Communist Party is again telling members that atheism remains a core value, not to be transgressed.

The developments mark a shift from just over a decade ago, when Pope Benedict XVI penned a landmark letter to the church in China that was seen as an impetus toward improving ties.

That goal now appears to have bleak prospects, according to priests and people with knowledge of China-Vatican relations both inside and outside China. Many spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid damaging their relations with either side.

“Recently, the news we hear is not so good,” said Jeroom Heyndrickx, of Belgium’s Catholic University of Leuven, who has sought to foster informal cultural exchanges between the church and China.

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