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ICC Note: A scholar in Taiwan comments that China’s tough religious policy that came into effect last February could impede the deal over bishop appointments between the Holy See and China. The Vatican has mentioned the tightened religious policy as a concern in the recent resumed negotiations.

06/26/2018 China (UCA News) – A Taiwan academic believes China’s tough religious policy could be a sticking point in reaching a deal with the Vatican on the appointment of bishops.

Sister Beatrice Leung Kit-fun, a research professor at Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, told that it was known that the Holy See had mentioned Beijing’s tightened religious policy in the recently resumed negotiations. “This is an obstacle to reaching an agreement between the two sides,” she said.

In February, Chinese authorities implemented newly revised regulations for religious affairs to strengthen the monitoring of religious activities, including imposing bans on minors from entering churches and heavy penalties for unauthorized activities and venues.

Sister Leung said mutual understanding and concessions were vital to the talks but even if an agreement was signed, the conditions would be difficult to implement.

She recalled that as early as 2008 the Holy See had sent officials to Taiwan to discuss non-diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Taiwan.

Sister Leung said the Vatican and Taiwan had been getting closer in the last five years, especially under Msgr. Paul Russell, former head of the Vatican nunciature in Taiwan. A treaty on post-secondary education was signed for mutual recognition of academic credentials, while art exhibitions were held to foster better relations.

Talks between the Vatican and China resumed in the second week of June, the first since last December, according to Reuters.

Pope Francis told the news agency: “I think the Chinese people merit the Nobel Prize for patience. They know how to wait. Time is theirs and they have centuries of culture … They are a wise people, very wise. I have great respect for China.”

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