It has "great ecclesial and pastoral value". An Osservatore Romano article states “there is a need to recognise that there are situations of great suffering. The Holy See is deeply aware of this, takes it into account and does not fail to draw the attention of the Chinese government to encourage a more fruitful exercise of religious freedom.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The provisional agreement "of great ecclesial and pastoral value" between China and the Holy See has been renewed for another two years. The news was announced today in a press release from the Holy See Press Office.
" Upon the expiration of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China regarding the appointment of Bishops, which was signed in Beijing on 2 September 2018 and took effect one month later, the two Parties have agreed to extend the experimental implementation phase of the Provisional Agreement for another two years. The Holy See considers the initial application of the Agreement – which is of great ecclesial and pastoral value – to have been positive, thanks to good communication and cooperation between the Parties on the matters agreed upon, and intends to pursue an open and constructive dialogue for the benefit of the life of the Catholic Church and the good of Chinese people”.
An article in today's Osservatore Romano then informs that, near the expiry of the Agreement of 22 September 2018, "the two Parties have evaluated various aspects of its application, and have agreed, through the official exchange of Verbal Notes, to extend its validity for another two years, until 22 October 2022".
The article then states that "the main purpose of the Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops in China is to support and promote the proclamation of the Gospel in those lands, restoring the full and visible unity of the Church. The main reasons, in fact, that have guided the Holy See in this process, in dialogue with the authorities of the country, are fundamentally of an ecclesiological and pastoral nature. The question of the appointment of Bishops is of vital importance for the life of the Church, both locally and universally”.
"Today, for the first time in many decades, all of the Bishops in China are in communion with the Bishop of Rome and, thanks to the implementation of the Agreement, there will be no more illegitimate ordinations. However, it should be noted that the Agreement did not address all the open questions or situations that still arouse concern for the Church, but exclusively the topic of episcopal appointments, which is decisive and indispensable for guaranteeing the ordinary life of the Church, in China as in all parts of the world ".
"The stipulation of the Agreement, therefore, constitutes the point of arrival in a long journey undertaken by the Holy See and the People's Republic of China, but it is also and above all the starting point for broader and far-sighted understandings". “This dialoguing attitude, nourished by respect and friendship, is strongly desired and promoted by the Holy Father. Pope Francis is well aware of the wounds brought to the communion of the Church in the past, and after years of long negotiations, initiated and carried out by his Predecessors and in an undoubted continuity of thought with them, he has re-established full communion with the Chinese Bishops ordained without papal mandate and authorized the signing of the Agreement on the appointment of Bishops, the draft of which had already been approved by Pope Benedict XVI”.
"It is only right that we also recognize - we read at the end of the article - that there are many situations of great suffering. The Holy See is deeply aware of this, takes it into account and does not fail to draw the attention of the Chinese government to encourage a more fruitful exercise of religious freedom. The path is still long and not without difficulties. The Holy See, with full trust in the Lord of history, who guides His Church unfailingly, and in the maternal intercession of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Sheshan, entrusts this passage to the cordial support and, above all, to the prayer of all Catholics. delicate and important, hoping that the contacts and dialogue with the People's Republic of China, which have matured a first fruit in the signing of the Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops and today's extension, will contribute to the solution of the questions of common interest that are still open, with particular reference to the life of Catholic communities in China, as well as to the promotion of an international horizon of peace, at a time when we are experiencing numerous tensions at a global level”. (FP)