Chinese bishops praise Pope and Vatican-China agreement

Two Chinese bishops attending the youth synod, warmly welcomed by Pope Francis, are full of praise for the provisional agreement between the Vatican and the Chinese government.

In welcoming Bishops John Baptist Yang Xiaoting and Joseph Guo Jincai to the synod, Francis wept, saying: “The communion of the entire episcopate with the successor of Peter is yet more visible thanks to their presence.”

Yang and Guo’s presence with government approval at the synod is seen as a sign of the Church in China’s restored communion with the Bishop of Rome.

It is also seen as an affirmation from China’s government of the historic provisional agreement on the selection of bishops signed in Beijing last month.

Since it was signed, there has been much debate about the wisdom of the provisional agreement.

Some view it as an essential step in ensuring the unity of Catholics in China with the universal church.

Others view it as an unacceptable concession to the Chinese government and a betrayal of Chinese Catholics who have risked their lives for decades by refusing to allow the government to control the church.

However, in praising Francis’s efforts for the Church in China, Yang says Francis’s agreement with the communist government of China is a sign of the unified church in the world.

At a mass Yang and Guo concelebrated in Rome, Yang told parishioners: “Just as a family constituted by a husband and wife is always one, so is the church, which is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

“In Italy, in China or in any other country, Christ’s love is the same.

“Pope Francis, who knows very well the situation of the Catholic Church in China, did not want to leave us, did not want to separate us from the universal church.”

Yang went on to tell them China’s Catholics were hopeful that Pope Francis, “and you, too,” could visit China one day.

“In the love of Christ, in the love of God, we are always one family; the universal church is always like a family,” he said.

“Even if we live in different countries and even if there is diversity between our cultures, liturgies and other things, our faith in the Lord is always one.”

Because of other commitments and the short time frame between the date the agreement was signed and the synod’s opening date, the two Chinese bishops are not able to stay until the synod ends on 28 October.


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