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06/27/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – As the renewal date of the Sino-Vatican deal is looming closer, Chinese Catholics are fighting for the release of bishops Joseph Zhang Weizhu and Cui Tai.

The two-year agreement between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Vatican stipulates that the Chinese government will nominate bishops to be a part of the official state-vetted Catholic Church. These nominations are then either vetoed or approved by Pope Francis.

Pressure for believers to follow and attend state-sanctioned churches has intensified since the inception of the deal in 2018. Consequently, some Catholics have left their underground church, expressing a desire to attend the unified state-vetted church.

In addition to underground church believers, bishops and church leaders have also come under harsh scrutiny by the government. In May 2021, Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu and Cui Tai were taken into custody by the police. Although reports indicate that both bishops have been granted authority by the pope to serve, their refusal to acknowledge the state-vetted church put them at odds with the government. Both bishops remain imprisoned with little to no updates on their whereabouts and/or condition.

In response to such injustices, Chinese Catholics have given the government and Pope Francis an ultimatum. If the two bishops are released, then the Sino-Vatican deal may be renewed; if not, then October shall mark the end of the deal.

Although Catholic Christians continue to respect Pope Francis, they believe that the Vatican has been misled by the Chinese government.

Please pray for Bishop Zhang and Cui, and for Pope Francis to acknowledge the ongoing persecution of Christians in China.

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