Diplomatic issues not addressed in China-Vatican agreement: report

09/19/2018 04:07 PM
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Image taken from Pixabay
Image taken from Pixabay

The Vatican, Sept. 19 (CNA) The issue of diplomatic relations will not be addressed in an agreement China and the Holy See are widely reported as ready to sign before the end of the month to settle their long-standing dispute over the nomination of bishops, an American Jesuit journal has reported.

In the upcoming deal, the question "was not raised in the present negotiations with Beijing, nor was the question of the Holy See's relations with Taiwan," said a report Tuesday in America, a magazine published by the Jesuits of the United States, citing informed sources.

The Holy See is the Republic of China's (Taiwan) only diplomatic ally in Europe out of its 17 worldwide.

Taiwan has lost five allies since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016. Dissatisfied with Tsai's cross-strait policy, China has stepped up its suppression of Taiwan's presence in the international community, claiming Taiwan is part of its territory.

Amid media speculation over the content of the agreement, which could yet lead to the Holy See establishing diplomatic ties with Beijing, the report cited a landmark deal to bring together China's state-backed and unauthorized Catholic communities, citing Vatican sources.

The magazine said a high-level Holy See delegation will travel to the Chinese capital for the signing and that a date has already been fixed.

"The agreement only deals with the question of the nomination of bishops. It gives each side a say in the selection of candidates, but it recognizes that the Pope will have the final word in the appointment of bishops for the Catholic Church throughout mainland China," the report said.

It pointed out that both China and the Holy See consider it "a provisional agreement," to be revisited in a few years.

Citing sources, the report said the Holy See recognizes it is "not a good agreement," but believes "it is the only one possible at present and that, in a small but highly significant way, it opens the door to developing a constructive and improving dialogue with the world's emerging superpower."

The report indicated that the text of the agreement will not be made public, even after the signing.

In contrast, a report by the Global Times, an English-language Chinese newspaper under the Communist-owned People's Daily, said Tuesday that in the proposed agreement, "future bishops in China should be approved by the Chinese government and mandated by the Pope and the letter of appointment would be issued by the Pope."

Citing Francesco Sisci, a senior researcher at the Center of European Studies at Renmin University in China, the Global Times said the agreement "would be rather broad on the Church in China and should also include provisions for future talks and changes."

The agreement is the result of negotiations that were revived after Pope Francis took office in March 2013, the Jesuit magazine noted, adding that the Donald Trump administration is not happy with the agreement, a position shared by others in the U.S. church and elsewhere.

"They see it as weakening the struggle for religious freedom in China and point to the crackdown on religion in that country in recent months under President Xi Jinping," the Jesuit magazine said.

(By Huang Ya-shih and Elizabeth Hsu)


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