The Vatican expects to renew its interim deal with China on the appointment of bishops, as part of efforts to “normalize” the life of the Catholic Church in China, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Monday.
“With China, our current interest is to normalize the life of the Church as much as possible, to ensure that the Church can live a normal life, which for the Catholic Church is also to have relations with the Holy See and with the Pope,” Parolin said Sept. 14, according to Italian news agency AgenSIR.
“Our perspective is on this ecclesiastical theme,” Parolin added, noting that this goal should also take place “against a backdrop of peaceful coexistence, the search for peace and overcoming tensions.”
Cardinal Parolin spoke to journalists on the sidelines of a private event with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, held at the Italian Embassy to the Holy See in Rome, Sept. 14.
Responding to questions, Parolin also said the Vatican’s intention “is that [the deal] be prolonged, that we continue to adopt it ad experimentum.”
“If there is the same intention on their part too? I think and hope so,” he said, calling the results of the two-year provisional agreement “not particularly exciting.”
The provisional agreement signed by the Vatican and China on Sept. 22, 2018, is due to expire in October.
Parolin spoke Monday morning at an event titled “Forty-five years after the Helsinki Accords, Cardinal Silvestrini and the Vatican Östpolitik,” organized by the Italian ambassador to the Holy See.
Following the Vatican-China agreement in 2018, state officials in different regions of China have continued to remove crosses and demolish church buildings, and underground Catholics and clergy continue to report harassment and detention.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the state-affiliated Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Zhejiang Province’s Chinese Catholic educational administration committee issued new regulations on the reopening of churches requiring Chinese “patriotism” to be added to the celebration of the liturgy.
There are also more than 50 dioceses without bishops on the mainland of China.
Despite mounting international condemnation of China’s internment of more than 1 million Uyghurs in concentration camps, where human rights agencies have reported repeated actions of crimes against human rights and “genocide,” the Holy See has not commented publicly on the situation.
A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said Sept. 10 that China’s interim deal with the Vatican has been “implemented successfully.”
The Chinese government spokesman also said that the Vatican and China had “accumulated more mutual trust and consensus through a series of positive interactions” since the beginning of 2020, citing mutual support during the COVID-19 pandemic.