02/22/2020 China &Vatican (International Christian Concern) – On February 14, top diplomats from China and Vatican met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference—the first meeting between foreign ministers of the two states, according to the state-run media Xinhua.
Discussed between the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Paul Gallagher and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi was the 2018 Vatican-China provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops, which allows Beijing to vet bishop candidates before the Vatican can appoint them in China. The agreement will expire in six months.
The South China Morning Post reported on February 17 that according to “sources,” Pope Francis had initiated the high-level meeting in Munich.
The Vatican has come under attacks by many critics for the lack of transparency for such provisional deal, and the fact that the Chinese underground Catholics continue to suffer even after the signing of this agreement.
Last week, the Emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen who constantly speaks against the Vatican-China deal—compared Vatican diplomatic efforts in China to St. Joseph trying to bargain with King Herod. “So [in this deal] the Vatican lost everything, and got nothing,” Cardinal Zen told Catholic News Agency.
Senator Marco Rubio, co-chair of the China Commission, tweeted on February 18 that “The Vatican made a pact with the Chinese Communist Party to force Chinese Catholics to support the party.”
“The Church shouldn’t ignore China’s continuing violations of religious freedom,” Rubio said. “The Party’s abuse know no bounds, whether Buddhist, Muslim, or Christian, and we cannot be silent.”