Rescuing and serving persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

ICC Note: In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Pope Francis says that talks between China and the Holy See over bishop appointments have resumed in mid-June. Despite opposition from the underground church, the pope states that “dialogue is a risk, but I prefer risk rather than the certain defeat that comes with not holding dialogue.”

06/22/2018 Vatican (UCA News) – After a long break, talks have resumed in recent weeks between China and the Vatican over a deal to normalize the appointment of bishops, according to reports coming out of Rome, with Pope Francis saying he remains committed to dialogue with the ruling Communist Party.

The first round of talks since last December was held in Rome in the second week of June, according to wire service Reuters, citing unnamed Vatican sources.

Neither side has ever confirmed the timing of talks and Rome has previously also indicated that any final agreement may not be released publicly. There have been unconfirmed reports that the target date for an initial deal was this month.

But talks might have been complicated by the case of Bishop Cui Tai, who has not been seen for two months since his abduction, and serial attacks on the church in the major Christian provinces of Henan and Hebei on the back of tough new religious regulations issued by Beijing on Feb. 1. Henan, home to more Catholics than any other Chinese province, has seen rules forbidding minors to worship in official churches, crosses removed and some places of worships shuttered.

Pope Francis spoke positively about a deal in an interview with Reuters at his residence.

“We are at a good point,” the pope told reporter Phillip Pullela, adding that “dialogue is a risk, but I prefer risk rather than the certain defeat that comes with not holding dialogue.”

He added: “As for the timing, some people say it’s Chinese time. I say it’s God’s time. Let’s move forward serenely.”

The pope described the talks as being in three parts: official dialogue, unofficial contacts between ordinary citizens “which we do not want to burn,” and cultural dialogue.

Estimates of the number of Catholics in China range from 9-12 million, with the percentage in the “official “church between 50-70 percent.

Opposition to the deal remains strong in the so-called underground church, where Catholics opposed to Beijing’s control worship in venues from their own churches to halls and private homes, often called house churches.

[Full Story]

 

For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org