Why is Vatican so keen on engaging with China?

Written By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi, India Published: Oct 01, 2020, 11:01 PM(IST)

Pope Francis and Xi Jinping Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Pope Francis is perhaps the first Pope in decades to successfully open a dialogue with China. Before him, Pope John Paul the second and Pope Benedict the 16th both tried but failed. Pope Francis is bending the rules for China and considering giving China a say in the appointment of bishops.

Roman Catholic Church has been banned in China for at least 60 years. Under Pope Francis, the Vatican is trying to change that.

Mao Zedong, the founding father of modern-day China severed ties with the Vatican in 1951 soon after the communist party took over.

China created the Chinese Catholic patriotic association. The Vatican did not give recognition to the association. The association chose its own bishops.

World over, only the pope has the authority to appoint senior catholic clergy. But this rule doesn't apply in China.

Catholics loyal to Rome started underground churches but in the eyes of Beijing, they are illegal. These churches have been demolished and their followers have faced persecution

Pope Francis is perhaps the first Pope in decades to successfully open a dialogue with China. Before him, Pope John Paul the second and Pope Benedict the 16th both tried but failed. Pope Francis is bending the rules for China and considering giving China a say in the appointment of bishops.

In 2018, a provincial agreement was signed. The specifics of this agreement are unclear. The deal allows the Vatican to only confirm the candidates picked by China.

Not everyone in the Catholic Church cheered this arrangement. Hong Kong's outspoken Cardinal Joseph Zen has criticised the deal.

In 2018, he said that the deal will put 12 million Catholics in China in a communist cage. Despite the criticism, the Vatican and China signed the accord in September 2018. On his part, Pope Francis did try to assuage some of the critics.

The Pope wanted the last word on naming bishops in China But the arrangement has failed to halt the oppression of Catholics in China.

More Churches have been demolished, Crosses have been removed, clerics have bee detained at black sites. Online sales of the Bible have been banned.

Talks are believed to be underway to renew the Vatican-China accord. If the deal is extended, the Vatican may continue to turn a blind eye to China's religious persecution and human rights violation.
 

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