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11/02/2022 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. 

Recently, members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) criticized the recently renewed Vatican deal with China. The independent bipartisan federal commission stated that the agreement worsens persecution against Christian in China by emboldening the Chinese government to crack down on Christian communities.

Stephen Schneck, a member of the commission and an outspoken advocate of Catholic social justice, expressed his concern for Cardinal Joseph Zen, a 90-year-old clergyman arrested alongside five others back in May.

Vatican officials have acknowledged the imperfections of the deal but stated that it functions to keep the channels of communication between Beijing and the Vatican open.

Stephen Curry, president of persecution watchdog Open Doors USA has stated that, “In some ways, [the Sino-Vatican agreement] has emboldened the Communist Party because they are using the agreement to say that anyone who doesn’t practice in an officially recognized church is therefore operating illegally.” 

USCIRF plans to file a report to Congress and the administration addressing the negative effects the Sino-Vatican agreement has had on religious freedom in China.

Please pray for Christians suffering under religious restrictions in China.

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