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10/23/2022 China (International Christian Concern) – On October 22, the Holy See announced the second renewal of the agreement with China on the appointment of bishops that was first introduced in October 2018.

The controversial two-year agreement that has never been made public, intends to permit Beijing to select bishops, with the Vatican having the final say. Yet, in the last four years, only six bishops were appointed under such deal.

In defense, Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, told Vatican News, “These may seem small achievements but, for those who examine history with the eyes of faith, they are important steps toward the progressive healing of the wounds inflicted on ecclesial communion by the events of the past.”

Despite the Holy See’s attempt to normalize its operation in the authoritarian country, religious freedom has not improved for the underground Chinese Catholics in the last few years. Many disappeared clergy have not returned, while those who are loyal to the Vatican constantly face threats and sometimes are subject to a “re-education” for their submission to join the official church.

Critics of the provisional agreement see it as a sell-out to the communist authorities. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also tweeted in September 2020 that “The Vatican endangers its moral authority, should it renew the deal.”

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