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China and Vatican to Sign Landmark Deal Over Bishops

Sep 15 , 2018

China and the Vatican are set to sign a landmark agreement later this month ending a long struggle between Beijing’s Communist rulers and the pope over who chooses the leaders of Catholicism in the world’s most populous country, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Reactions to the deal, which gives both sides a say in appointing the church’s bishops in China, are likely to be sharply divided, with some hailing a diplomatic coup by the Vatican that draws China closer to the West and others warning of an important defeat for the principle of religious freedom.

The controversial deal would include the first official recognition by Beijing that the pope is the head of the Catholic Church in China. In return, Pope Francis would formally recognize seven excommunicated Chinese bishops who were appointed by the Communist government without Vatican approval.

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