China and the Vatican: Pope Talks, the Chinese Government Specifies. Is There Hope for the Chinese Church?

Monsignor Javier Herrera-Corona, a Vatican official in Hong Kong, requested 50 Catholic Associations and Missions to prepare for Chinese repression.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 06.07.2022).- China is one of the few countries in the world with which the Holy See doesn’t have diplomatic relations. The situation of the Catholic population in that country is very peculiar: there is a community that is officially accepted by the Communist Government (the so-called “Patriotic Church”) and another “of the catacombs.” Both say they are faithful to the Pope, except that the former is subordinated to the power of the Chinese government and the latter is persecuted for not submitting to it. 

In recent years the Vatican has undertaken steps of rapprochement. That rapprochement led to the signing in 2018 of a “status quo,” which implied the subjecting of the Vatican’s appointment of Bishops to the prior placet [assent] of the Chinese Government. 

In an interview with Reuters Agency, Pope Francis said that the Agreement with China on the appointment of Bishops isn’t ideal; however, he hopes it can be renewed in October 2022, “because the Catholic Church reasons in terms of long periods,” adding that “the agreement is proceeding well and I hope it can be renewed.” These subjects are managed by his Cardinal Secretary of State, of whom the Holy Father said: The one who carries out this Agreement is Cardinal Parolin, who is the Holy See’s topmost diplomat, a man of high diplomatic level. And he knows how to move; he is a dialoguing man and he dialogues with the Chinese Authorities.”

The Chinese Government’s answer came swiftly. During the press conference on Wednesday, July 6, Agence France Presse (AFP) asked the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, about the Pope’s statement to Reuters. 

AFP asked: “The attempt of agreement between China and the Vatican on the  appointment of Bishops will expire in October. Pope Francis has expressed his desire to broaden the agreement. Does China also have a plan of renewal? If in the affirmative case, is China thinking of revising some terms? Will the complete content of the Agreement be revealed? To which Zhao Lijian answered:

“Since the signing of the provisional Agreement between China and the Vatican on the appointment of Bishops, the Agreement has been implemented with success, thanks to the efforts of both sides. Both sides will continue working in this sense of accord with the agreed agenda.”

Meanwhile, last June 20 the local Bishop (ordained without papal mandate in 2011, but recovered by the Agreement with China in 2018) was celebrating the anniversary of the birth of the Chinese Communist Party in the Cathedral of Leshan. Catholics were invited to “hear the word of the Party, to feel the grace of the Party and to follow the Party.” 

“It’s no longer about hearing the Lord, feeling His grace and following Him. This is the root of the sickness of the present Chinese Church; it’s difficult to come out of the influence of the ideology. Politics has entered the Church,” said a source to Asia News. 

Monsignor Javier Herrera-Corona, a Vatican official in Hong Kong, requested the 50 Catholic Associations and Missions to prepare for Chinese repression. The Mexican ecclesiastic warned that “a change is coming and it’s better that you be prepared,” adding  that “Hong Kong is not the great Catholic beachhead it was.” Last May, the Cardinal Emeritus of Hong Kong, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, SDB, was imprisoned and later left on conditional release.

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Jorge Enrique Mújica

Licenciado en filosofía por el Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, de Roma, y “veterano” colaborador de medios impresos y digitales sobre argumentos religiosos y de comunicación. En la cuenta de Twitter:, habla de Dios e internet y Church and media: evangelidigitalización."

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