Vatican official hints at de-facto deal with China on bishops

(UCAN) A senior Vatican official has hinted there is an unofficial agreement between the Holy See and Beijing on the appointment of bishops even as negotiations to formalize arrangements continue to hit roadblocks.

Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who attended a conference on the sensitive topic of organ donation and transplantation in the southern Chinese city of Kunming, offered the hint during an interview with state-run Global Times on Aug. 4.

“We need to make a distinction between a formal agreement and the real things (that are happening among the public). The real thing is that at this moment China and [the] pope have a very good relation,” said Bishop Sorondo.

Observers have been increasingly confident that a process has been put in place as the two sides work towards a formal agreement especially after the appointment of five new bishops in 2015 and 2016 that were jointly recognized by both sides.

But a formal agreement appears to be stuck on three bishops appointed by Beijing who are not recognized by Rome. Two of them are understood to have family relationships inconsistent with the priesthood and another has a cloud over him regarding possible criminal offences. [More]