There is no “imminent” agreement between Continental China and the Vatican, specified Greg Burke, but the dialogue continues and the Pope is kept constantly abreast of its progress.
In response to journalists’ questions on an agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, published the following statement, in Italian, on Thursday, March 29, 2018. “I can affirm that there is no ‘imminent’ signing of an agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China. I would also like to stress that the Holy Father Francis is in constant contact with his collaborators on the Chinese questions and accompanies the stages of the ongoing dialogue.”
Last January, Greg Burke already mentioned Pope Francis’ “special solicitude” for the Chinese questions. On January 30, 2018, he stated: “The Pope is in constant contact with his collaborators, in particular the State Secretariat, on the Chinese questions, and is informed by them in a faithful and detailed manner on the situation of the Catholic Church in China and on the stages of the on-going dialogue between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China, which he accompanies with special solicitude.”
According to the Italian agency AsiaNews, in Continental China, the Catholic Church brings together some 17 million baptized persons: 4 or 5 million in the Patriotic Association and some 12 million in the Church that doesn’t adhere to this Association recognized by the State.
Father Bernardo Cervellera, Director of AsiaNews, agency of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions of Milan (PIME), pointed out that the government’s control over the Bishops is very strong.
Nevertheless, Father Cervellera quoted words of the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. Lu Kang, who affirmed the “sincere disposition of Beijing” to “improve relations with the Vatican,” in order to strengthen “bilateral relations” and to “come to new progress.”