This past week it was reported that the Holy See may be approaching a new agreement with the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops. For some time, it has been rumored that an agreement was imminent since successors to many of the Vatican-appointed bishops beyond retirement age have not been named. The relationship between the Holy See and China has been a tense one for decades, and when state-sponsored episcopal appointments have been made without Vatican approval, some who were ordained bishops at the behest of the government were excommunicated.
The division between the government-tolerated Church and the “underground Church” is a serious one, and many Chinese Catholics have suffered greatly for their fidelity to Rome. We can only pray that should an agreement indeed be reached, it will respect the authority of the Holy See, as well as the faith of those who have undergone a period of long suffering for it. There is certainly no easy solution. May the Holy Spirit enlighten the hearts of those involved in the ongoing discussions so that an agreeable position may be reached in service to the truth and in fidelity to Christ and his One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.