Vatican and China extend bishops deal

2 bishops already appointed under prolonged accord, 'good start'

(ANSA) - BEIJING, OCT 22 - The Vatican and China on Thursday extended for another two years an accord on the appointment of bishops which has been contested by the United States.
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently urged the Vatican not to renew the deal saying the Church should do more to defend religious freedom.
    China confirmed the extension of the accord, which had been announced by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Wednesday.
    "On October 22, after friendly consultations," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, "China and the Vatican decided to extend the preliminary accord for another two years".
    He added: "The two sides will remain in close consultation and communication in order to continually improve their relations".
    The Holy See, for its part, described the deal extension as "of fundamental ecclesiastical and pastoral value".
    It said the deal signed two years ago "has been positive, thanks to good communication and collaboration between the parties in the agreed matter".
    It said the Vatican intends "to continue open and constructive dialogue to favour the life of the Catholic Church and the good of the Chinese people".
    The bishops issue had long seen the Vatican at loggerheads with Beijing.
    Many Chinese Catholics were forced to worship in an underground Church with bishops appointed by Rome, while the Chinese government appointed its own bishops.
    The Vatican on Thursday said the new dialogue had been "strongly desired" by Pope Francis.
    Two bishops were appointed under the extension of the accord, with the Vatican calling this "a good start".
    But it said "situations of suffering remain". (ANSA).


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