Vatican-China foreign ministers meet for first time in 50 years

Vatican-China diplomatic relations seem to be warming up, with their foreign ministers meeting for the first time in 50 years.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for Relations with States, and the foreign minister of the People’s Republic of China and counsellor of state, Wang Yi, met in Germany last Friday.

They were both attending the Munich Security Conference and convened outside the formal agenda to that annual event.

It is considered to be the highest-level meeting between the Vatican and China since communist rule began in China in 1949.

The Vatican said the diplomats met in “a cordial climate” and “recalled the contacts between the two sides that had developed positively over time.”

Gallagher and Wang’s discussion “highlighted the importance of the Provisional Agreement on the [2018] Nomination of Bishops …”, the Vatican reported, and “renewed the will to pursue the institutional dialogue at a bilateral level to foster the life of the Catholic Church and the good of the Chinese people.”

During their meeting the diplomats discussed the 2018 deal between the Vatican and China giving the Vatican the final say on the appointment of bishops in China – a matter of some contention up until that point.

The two sides also agreed to continue “institutional, bi-lateral dialogue” aimed at benefiting both the Catholic Church and the Chinese people.

The Vatican’s statement concluded by expressing the mutual hope “for greater international cooperation so as to promote civil coexistence and peace in the world.”

It also said the two sides “exchanged considerations on intercultural dialogue and human rights.”

While relations between the Vatican and China have improved since the 2018 deal, and both sides now recognise the pope as supreme leader of the Catholic Church, conservative Catholics say the Vatican sold out to the communist government.


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