Pope Francis to Bow to China With Concession on Bishops

Vatican to move to end standoff and gain authority by recognizing seven excommunicated prelates

The Wall Street Journal
Date: Feb. 1, 2018
By: Francis X. Rocca in Vatican City and
Eva Dou in Beijing

Pope Francis has decided to accept the legitimacy of seven Catholic bishops appointed by the

The choir sings at Christmas Eve Mass at the Xuanwumen Catholic Church in Beijing in December. PHOTO: WU HONG/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Chinese government, a concession that the Holy See hopes will lead Beijing to recognize his authority as head of the Catholic Church in China, according to a person familiar with the plan.

For years, the Vatican didn’t recognize the bishops’ ordinations, which were carried out in defiance of the pope and considered illicit, part of a long-running standoff between the Catholic Church and China’s officially atheist Communist Party.

The pope will lift the excommunications of the seven prelates and recognize them as the leaders of their dioceses, according to the person familiar with the situation. A Vatican spokesman declined to comment.

The decision reflects the Holy See’s desire for better relations with China—where Christianity is growing fast, though mostly in the form of Protestantism—and for an end to the division between the government-controlled church and a larger so-called underground church loyal to Rome. Catholics are estimated to number from 9 million to 12 million, while Protestants run from 40 million in some studies to two or more times that number in the estimates of some missionary groups.    [FULL  STORY]