Taipei, China’s possible extension of an accord with the Holy See regarding the appointment of Catholic bishops in China could be part of an overall strategy against the United States, an expert on China-Vatican affairs has told CNA.
According to a report by Corriere della Sera, an Italian daily newspaper, the Vatican and China will simultaneously announce a two-year extension of the provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops in China on Oct. 22.
The report also said the Vatican and China could establish diplomatic relations within two years should the agreement proceed smoothly.
The Vatican declined to comment on the report.
Under the agreement, signed in September 2018 by the two sides, Beijing puts forward bishops for appointment by the pope, who can either appoint or veto the recommendations.
An expert on the matter told CNA that “it has been a longtime strategy for China to fight its major foe by joining forces with a secondary enemy. At the present stage, China’s major enemy is the United States.”
By agreeing to sign the deal with the Vatican, Beijing has set aside its policy of “sinicizing” religion in China in the hope that they join forces in countering the U.S., the expert said.
By doing so, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hopes to keep its regime from disintegration, the expert said.
However, the expert warned that such a deal can only bring short term gains for the CCP because “when the door of religious freedom opens, it will be hard to close it again.”
According to the Corriere della Sera, fundamentalists within the CCP at first opposed the deal, fearing that the Holy See’s current policy of engagement with China might be influenced by Washington.
However, Pope Francis’ recent refusal to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allowed the pro-Vatican factions to silence their opponents.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel