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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Vatican-China agreement motivated by mission, cardinal says

The Vatican’s tentative agreement with the government of mainland China obviously has a diplomatic component, but it was motivated by a desire to spread the Gospel and ensure the appropriate freedom of the Catholic Church, the Vatican secretary of state wrote.

A firm belief that the Catholic Church truly is ‘catholic’ or universal ‘pushes the Holy See to nurture no distrust or hostility toward any country, but to follow the way of dialogue in order to reduce distances, overcome misunderstandings and avoid new divisions,’ Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote in the preface to a new book.

The book, The Church in China, is a collection of essays published in the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica and reflects themes treated by the ‘China Forum for Civilisational Dialogue’, a project of the journal and Georgetown University.

In mid-September, representatives of the Vatican and the Chinese government signed what they described as a “provisional agreement” on the appointment of bishops, a key sticking point in Vatican-Chinese relations for decades.

Just prior to the agreement’s signing, Pope Francis lifted the excommunications or regularised the status of seven bishops who had been ordained with government approval, but not the Vatican’s consent, marking the first time in decades that all the Catholic bishops in China were in full communion with the pope.

Picture: The Chinese national flag flies in front of a Catholic church in the village of Huangtugang, Hebei province, China, on 30th September 2018. In a new book, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, writes that the Vatican’s recent agreement with the Chinese government was motivated by a desire to spread the Gospel and assure freedom of the Church. (CNS photo/Thomas Peter, Reuters).