Entertainment Beijing and the Vatican will renew a thorny marriage, Washington under attack

15:05  21 september  2020
15:05  21 september  2020 Source:   lepoint.fr

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  Pékin et le Vatican vont renouveler un mariage épineux, Washington à l'attaque © Supplied by Le Point

The Holy See and Communist China are preparing to renew a historic agreement signed two years ago, which grants the Pope the last word to appoint Chinese bishops, arousing the ire of the US government.

In the United States, President Donald Trump brandishes China's anti-religious repression as an argument for the presidential campaign.

Its Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went on the frontal attack on the Vatican by publishing a tweet and a forum at the end of the week in which he denounces the "horrible" persecutions of believers of all faiths in China which "repulses" many countries .

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"More than ever, the Chinese people need the moral witness and the authority of the Vatican", he says in the American religious magazine "First Things". Adding that "the agreement between China and the Vatican did not protect Catholics against the actions of the party".

Pope Francis has certainly accustomed the faithful to explicitly denounce a number of persecutions on the planet, but he has adopted a diplomatic attitude of small steps with Beijing, to put together a Chinese Church split in two.

The 12 million or so Chinese Catholics - a very small minority in this country of nearly 1.4 billion inhabitants - have been torn for decades between a "patriotic" Church controlled by the Communist regime and a so-called "underground" Church. the authority of the pope and often persecuted as such.

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On September 22, 2018, the Vatican sealed a historic "provisional" agreement with the communist regime in Beijing, the fruit of endless negotiations at a snail's march, the exact content of which has never been published.

The only tangible point then announced: Pope Francis immediately recognized eight Chinese bishops appointed by Beijing without his approval.

Two years later, the results are not bright for Vatican diplomacy, but two new bishops have been appointed in China with the final endorsement of the leader of the 1.3 billion Catholics on the planet. Beforehand, they had to become members of the official Patriotic Church, which many old prelates persecuted in the past still fiercely refuse to do.

All over the world, it is the Pope who decides on the appointment of bishops, men whom he himself has met or who are recommended to him by national episcopal conferences.

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Historic moment in February 2020: Foreign "ministers" from China and the Vatican met publicly in an international event, a first in seven decades.

But diplomatic relations between Beijing and the Holy See were severed in 1951, two years after the Communists came to power.

The Vatican also continues to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. A deadlock situation, because this island populated by 23 million inhabitants is considered by Beijing as a Chinese province awaiting reunification.

Green light from the Pope to renew the agreement

Pope Francis has just given the green light to renewing the agreement, still in "experimental" mode for two more years, a source close to the matter told AFP. A discreet exchange of notes with China has yet to seal it "in October".

The thorny questions, such as those of Chinese Catholic priests suddenly disappearing from their parishes for weeks "at the invitation" of the authorities, are raised in Beijing by Vatican diplomats, assures this eminent expert.

They are the subject of recurring criticism from the old Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, or even from the Italian father Bernardo Cervellera, former missionary in China, who publishes on his site AsiaNews testimonies of Chinese Catholics very dissatisfied with the agreement.

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"Our current interest with China is to normalize the life of the Church as much as possible", explained in mid-September Cardinal Pietro Parolin, right-hand man of Pope Francis and main architect of the agreement, while admitting that the first results of the agreement "were not particularly striking".

Four days earlier, Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese foreign minister, gave a positive note to the bilateral agreement, "successfully implemented".

A compliment for a Chinese Communist Party which wonders about any organization, especially religious, that could threaten its authority.

Beijing has observed for several years a policy of "sinization" of religions, intended to make them conform to the objectives of the communist power.

The China of President Xi Jinping, who came to power in 2012, has also increased its surveillance of all cults. Churches have been destroyed, crosses taken down from steeples and religious nursery schools closed.

09/21/2020 11:14:53 - Vatican City (AFP) - © 2020 AFP

Pope Francis being watched by 'everybody' to see if Vatican forms ties with China over Taiwan: US diplomat .
Rome — Pope Francis’s persistent interest in controversial negotiations with China could foreshadow a move to downgrade relations with Taiwan in favor of the mainland communist regime. © Provided by Washington Examiner “Everybody is watching for that,” ambassador Sam Brownback, the State Department’s point man for international religious liberty issues, said on the sidelines of a symposium hosted by the U.S. mission to the Holy See. “It is a key issue.

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This is interesting!