Two days after what so many have called a “historic agreement” between China and the Holy See on the appointment of bishops, attempts to understand and evaluate its scope continue. The sober announcement of the Vatican Press Office – while all the journalists were busy elsewhere, on Pope Francis’ journey to Lithuania – was greeted with a mix of optimism and dark pessimism.
Among the optimists, the adjective “historic” abounded, forgetting that the agreement has been labelled “provisional”, subject to “periodic evaluations”, and that the Holy See Press Office director spoke of the “beginning” of “a process” and not of its “end”.
For the pessimists, it is “the beginning” of a total sell out of the Chinese Church to the State which, as is already the case, will do what it wants, that is, transform it into a Party instrument. They also point out the silent suffering that Catholics official and unofficial have had to bear for almost 70 years.