Over the past weeks there have been numerous speculations about the prospects of the renewal of the Holy See-China Provisional Agreement with columnists expressing different views and analyses on the issue.
At last after extensive consultations and evaluations, this provisional agreement was extended on October 22, 2022 for more two years bearing in mind that the validity of the agreement first concluded in 2018.
The renewal of Holy See-China Provisional Agreement has multifold benefits. This agreement recognizes the Holy See as a fully-fledged partner and on an equal footing with China; it ensures the basic Holy See role in caring and fostering the mission of the Catholic Church in China, as well as it ensures the Catholic Chinese full religious rights including freedom to perform their Christian rites and marking religious feasts peacefully.
The renewal of the provisional agreement is a fulgent achievement that holds China high in the eyes of political observers as well as proves the excellence, effectiveness and resilience of the Holy See's diplomacy that serves in the continuation of divine message as mentioned in the Holy Bible.
With the Holy See committed to continuing a respectful and constructive dialogue to further the mission of the Catholic Church and the good of the Chinese people, the Vatican stated that "it is committed to continuing a respectful and constructive dialogue with the Chinese Party for a productive implementation of the accord and for further development of bilateral relations, with a view to fostering the mission of the Catholic Church and the good of the Chinese people."
In an interview with the Osservatore Romano and Vatican News, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said that "the heart of the agreement certainly has to do also with the consolidation of good institutional and cultural dialogue, but it mainly concerns aspects that are essential to the daily life of the Church in China.”
Stressing that the path of constructive dialogue with China, in which the Provisional Agreement for the Appointment of Bishops occupies a limited but significant part, Cardinal Parolin said: "the ultimate goal… for the 'little flock' of Chinese Catholics is to advance in the possibility of living serenely and freely their Christian life, which is made up of the proclamation of the Gospel, solid formation, joyful celebration of the Eucharist, as well as an industrious witness of charity, in order to be close to those who struggle the most to cope with life, as was the case during the difficult time of the pandemic."
Interviewed by Fides News Agency, Cardinal Luis Tagle also said that "the Provisional Agreement seeks to ensure that Chinese Catholic bishops can exercise their ministry in full communion with the Pope, safeguarding the sacramental life of the Catholic Church in China." He added that the agreement "safeguards the valid apostolic succession and the sacramental nature of the Catholic Church in China.” He added, “And this can reassure, comfort and enliven baptized Catholics in China.”
Actually the Holy See's diplomacy is worthy applause and appreciation whereby the renewal of the provisional agreement serves the cause of peace among followers of different religions in China and enlivens baptized Catholics in this country.
The Holy See has all the times been active in calling for protecting the rights of religious communities worldwide, while calling for maintaining peace and brotherly relations as mentioned in the Encyclical "Fratelli tutti" whose purpose is to propose fraternity and social friendship as the ways indicated to build a better and peaceful world with commitment of all people, institutions, the economic world, international organizations, and civil society. The Renewal of Holy See-China Provisional Agreement is in compliance with the Encyclical "Fratelli tutti" as it demonstrates to the world that common understanding and courageous will prevail between the Chinese Communist Party and the Holy See. It is also hoped that this agreement will further be extended in the years to come so as to provide cogent evidence that peace and fraternal relations are the path leading to understanding and harmony.
It is also hoped that the spirit of the Holy See-China Provisional Agreement and Fratelli tutti will prevail in Africa--where religious turbulence and violence wreak havoc-- and in the entire world so that all peoples of the world would enjoy a life abounding with faith, brotherhood, and fraternal relations.