The Vatican has asked Taiwan not to worry about the extension of a deal between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops, as it was a religious matter and not a diplomatic one, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
Pope Francis has signed off on a two-year extension of the agreement — which critics have condemned as a sellout to the Beijing government — a senior Vatican source said on Monday.
According to Italian media, Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said the papal state intends to renew the provisional accord with Beijing signed in September 2018, which is due to expire this month.
Photo: Reuters / Vatican Media
The pact, which gives the pope the final say on the appointment of Chinese bishops picked by Beijing, took effect on Oct. 22 of that year, and if the Chinese side agrees, which is seen as virtually a given, it would be extended without any changes, the Vatican source said.
The Vatican is Taiwan’s sole diplomatic ally in Europe and the government has watched with concern as the Pope has moved to improve relations with China over the past few years.
The government was playing close attention to the Vatican’s interactions with China and was in close touch it, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said, adding that Taiwan and the Vatican had “smooth” communications.
“Our side has continued to receive assurances from the Vatican, that the bishops agreement with China is religious, not about diplomatic relations, and asked us not to worry,” Ou said at a news briefing at the ministry after she was asked if the Vatican’s extension decision would hurt its ties with Taiwan.
The government had hoped the agreement would help improve religious freedom in China, but since it was signed repression has actually worsened, Ou said.
“We’ve seen the Chinese government continuing its religious persecutions,” she said. “Many Catholics have been sent to jail and many churches demolished.”
Meanwhile, in Beijing, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) yesterday said that his nation’s relationship with the Vatican has been improving and it would like to remain in touch to ensure more progress.
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