NCR Podcast: Politics, state control and the Catholic Church in China


A woman prays Oct. 1 outside St. Joseph Catholic Church in Beijing. (CNS/Isaac Brekken, EPA)
A woman prays Oct. 1 outside St. Joseph Catholic Church in Beijing. (CNS/Isaac Brekken, EPA)

The Vatican this month announced the signing of a "provisional agreement" with Chinese authorities to address a seven-decade dispute over the appointment of Catholic bishops in the world's most populous country.

On the show today:

Background reading:

  • The four-paragraph Sept. 22 statement announcing the Vatican-China deal was light on details, but it may represent a diplomatic achievement of historic proportions for Pope Francis' five-year papacy. Four days after signing the agreement, Pope Francis wrote a letter asking the members of China's Catholic Church to have faith in the Vatican's judgment in signing an agreement with their government.
  • Catholics in Macau, Taiwan and Hong Kong are divided over the provisional agreement between China and the Vatican on the appointment of bishops, reports Catholic News Service. The deal is seen as just a first step by Rome to exerting more influence on the Chinese church.
  • Debate continues about whether the Vatican's provisional agreement with China will improve relations between the Chinese state and members of religious groups, which have had a long history of conflict. A Sept. 27 hearing on Capitol Hill, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, drew attention to the challenges faced by the Chinese government in adapting its stance toward religion in modern times.

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