When Pope Francis met with the diplomatic corps on Feb. 8, he affirmed the results of the dialogue on the renewal of the Sanskrit-China pact, but the next day the Chinese Communist Party announced the full text of a new religious law.
According to reports, China will implement a new law on religious clergy in May, which includes the requirement for clergy to declare allegiance to the Communist Party, but the new law makes no mention of the Pope’s mandate, which is of most concern to the outside world.
Taiwan‘s Central News Agency reported that in 2018, the Sanskrit and Chinese signed a “provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops”, the contents of which have not been made public, but the Pope himself confirmed that the agreement gives the Pope the final word on the appointment of Chinese bishops. Those in the Holy See who supported the agreement said at the Time that the Chinese Communist government, which had always viewed the Pope as an “outside force interfering with the regime,” “has finally officially recognized the Pope as the leader of Catholicism in China.
In late October 2020, after a last-minute announcement of the renewal of the agreement, China immediately disclosed in November that it was working on a new “religious clergy management scheme” that would require “clergy to declare their allegiance to the Communist Party” and “Chinese religions to be independent and self-managed.
When Pope Francis met with the diplomatic corps on Feb. 8, he affirmed the results of the dialogue on the renewal of the treaty, but the next day the Chinese Communist Party announced the full text of the new religious law, which was described as a clear violation of the agreement and even described by international media as a “slap in the face.
However, the report cited unnamed scholars as saying that those in charge of the Holy See said they were still willing to continue working with the Chinese regime in exchange for “more space for dialogue” in order to promote religious freedom, human rights and democratization in China.