A new era for the Catholic Church in China began last fall, when Pope Francis signed a historic « provisional agreement » with the People`s Republic of China regarding the appointment of bishops in China. The deal broke a nearly 70-year standoff between Beijing and the Vatican. At the end of September, the Pope also gave an interview on the agreement and sent a message to Chinese Catholics and the universal Church to explain the reasons for this courageous gesture. Indeed, in the 40 years since China began reforms under Deng, Sino-Vatican relations have seen many entries and exits that have shifted into a cycle that sometimes resembled a ten-year cycle. Progress has been made and would deteriorate rapidly. This seems to have broken that 70-year impasse with the signing of the interim agreement. On September 17, 2020, foreign policy journalist Benedict Rogers revealed that China was no longer imposing the terms of the 2018 agreement, which were only valid for two years.  In announcing the agreement, Greg Burke, the director of the Holy See Press Office, said that « the purpose of the agreement is not political, but pastoral and allows the faithful to have bishops in communion with Rome, while being recognized by the Chinese authorities. » Pope John Paul II saw some signs of hope. Almost from the beginning of his pontificate, he took a great interest in the Church in China. In 1983, he wrote a personal letter to Deng requesting « direct contact between the Holy See and the chinese people`s authorities. » Its openings have not been replicated. He was never able to visit China. Zhao Lijian: The concerted efforts of the two sides have successfully implemented the interim agreement on the appointment of bishops between China and the Vatican since it was signed about two years ago. Since the beginning of this year, the two sides have supported each other in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, worked together to maintain overall public health security, and gained more mutual trust and consensus through a series of positive interactions.
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