ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE
The Associated Press
September 25, 2018
By Nicole Winfield
Pope Francis acknowledged Tuesday that his landmark deal with China over bishop nominations will cause suffering among the underground faithful. But he said that he takes full responsibility and that he — and not Beijing — will have the ultimate say over naming new bishops.
Francis provided the first details of the weekend agreement signed during an in-flight news conference coming home from the Baltics. The deal aims to end decades of tensions over bishop nominations that had contributed to dividing the Chinese church and hampered efforts at improving bilateral relations.
China’s estimated 12 million Catholics are split between those belonging to the government-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is outside the pope’s authority, and an underground church loyal to the pope. Underground priests and parishioners are frequently detained and harassed.
Francis — and before him Pope Benedict XVI — had tried to unite the two communities, and years of negotiations kicked into high gear over a year ago.
Francis acknowledged that both sides lost something in the talks, and said members of the underground Chinese church “will suffer” as a result of the deal, the text of which has not been released.
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