China Patriotic Church

Antoaneta Bezlova of Inter Press Service reports on the speculation that the pope’s successor may normalize relations between China and the Vatican, more than fifty years after China’s government expelled foreign priests and cut all ties with the Holy See; allowing the Church to exist only with state-appointed bishops. Such expectations were reinforced this week with the announcement of a Hong Kong bishop that the Vatican was willing to sacrifice diplomatic relations with China’s rival, Taiwan, in order to secure Beijing’s blessing and the possibility of greater religious freedom for the Church to operate inside China. Currently, five million Chinese Catholics belong to the state-run China Patriotic Church, and and estimated eight million more belong to underground churches that recognize the pope.