U.S. religious liberty expert ‘disappointed’ in Vatican-China deal | National Catholic Reporter

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by
An older white man in a suit stands next to a Brown-skinned man in a suit

Joe Donnelly, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, and Nury A. Turkel, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, pose for photos in Rome Jan. 12, 2023. (CNS photo/Courtesy of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See)

Rome — January 13, 2023

The United States’ chief advocate for religious freedom expressed his “disappointment” in the Vatican over its provisional agreement with China on the appointment of bishops in the country.

Nury A. Turkel, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, met with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister, at the Vatican Jan 12.

Speaking afterward to journalists at a meeting hosted by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, Turkel said the 45-minute meeting, lengthy by Vatican standards, focused primarily on religious persecution in China.

The Vatican and China signed an agreement in 2018 that recognized the pope as the leader of the Catholic Church and set out a process for cooperation between the Chinese government and the Vatican for the appointment of bishops. Its terms have never been made public, and in October 2022 it was renewed for a third two-year term.

Turkel said that China “has been using the agreement to justify its crackdown on underground churches” and to “punish Chinese priests.”

He specifically cited the case of Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu of Xinxiang, who has been detained by Chinese authorities since May 2021 for refusing to join the government-recognized church.

China’s Catholics “need a voice, and they are looking up to the Vatican to use its influence to help them,” said Turkel, who was born in a re-education camp during China’s Cultural Revolution and lived there with his mother until he was four months old.

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U.S. religious liberty expert ‘disappointed’ in Vatican-China deal | National Catholic Reporter

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