China, Vatican increase talks over bishop appointments

Beijing, May 18 (IANS) China and the Vatican have engaged in more frequent discussions through a working group, which points to progress in both countries’ efforts to solve issues including bishop appointments, a media report said on Wednesday.

Citing sources in Beijing, Hong Kong and Rome, the Hong Kong-based Catholic news site reported that closed-door negotiations were held in Beijing on the last week of April, their second meeting in 2016.

The Vatican would not be rushed into an accord, but instead proposed a working group “so that both sides can study thorny issues one by one”, a church source was quoted as saying by

“The increased frequency has demonstrated the two sides’ willingness for more dialogues to seek solutions to their concerns. Such avenues of communication can help enhance mutual understanding of each other’s concerns, if not to immediately improve Sino-Vatican relations,” Wang Meixiu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times.

A Chinese delegation reportedly went to the Vatican in January to reciprocate a Vatican delegation who visited the National Seminary of the Catholic Church (NSCC) in China and Bishop Li Shan of the Beijing diocese in October 2015.

The Vatican delegation was also welcomed by Bishop Ma Yinglin, president of the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC), it added.

This is not the first time for China or the Vatican to set up a working group on religious affairs, as a Sino-Russian religious communication group have been holding conferences, and Vietnam and the Vatican have also set up joint working groups to address Catholic affairs, according to Wang.

“Such working groups may indicate more stable dialogues at regular intervals. With relatively stable compositions, the groups can also better guarantee the continuity of discussions, which is conducive to solving problems,” Wang noted.

In early May, Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said in an interview with Italian magazine San Francesco that China and the Vatican “are in a positive phase” and that there were signs that the two parties have the will to pursue a dialogue and to work together to find solutions to the problem of the presence of the Catholic Church in China.



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