China, Vatican agree on bishop appointments

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Uighurs held against their will: Pompeo

Pope Francis waves to the crowd as the Popemobile nears onlookers holding a Chinese flag in St Peter’s Square in June 2016. Photo: AFP

VILNIUS, Sept 22, (Agencies): The Vatican announced Saturday it had reached an historic accord with China on the appointment of bishops in the Communist country which has so far named its own officials to a sole Beijing- recognized Catholic church.

The agreement follows “a gradual and reciprocal rapprochement (and) has been agreed following a long process of careful negotiation and foresees the possibility of periodic reviews of its application,” the Vatican said in a statement issued as Pope Francis visits the Baltic states. “It concerns the nomination of Bishops, a question of great importance for the life of the Church, and creates the conditions for greater collaboration at the bilateral level,” it added.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke played down any suggestion that the accord could have wider political implications, even though it marks a breakthrough on an issue which has bedevilled relations with China for years. The agreement “is not political but pastoral, allowing the faithful to have bishops who are in communion with Rome but at the same time recognised by Chinese authorities,” he said in Vilnius.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday denounced “awful abuses” of Muslim Uighurs detained in Chinese reeducation camps. “Hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Uighurs are held against their will in so-called reeducation camps where they’re forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses,” Pompeo said in a speech on the state of religious freedom around the world. Beijing has rejected UN estimates that more than a million members of Muslim minorities are being held in internment camps in China’s western Xinjiang region.

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