October 22, 2020
In response to the announcement by the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China on October 22 regarding the extension of their provisional agreement on bishop appointments for another two years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan) issued the following statement:
The Holy See has publicly stated on numerous occasions that the provisional agreement with the PRC only deals with pastoral issues and does not touch on diplomatic or political matters. Taiwan highly values this solemn commitment and has maintained close contacts with the Holy See, expressing our concern and position. It is also understood that the Holy See and the PRC did not re-sign the agreement, but reached a tacit understanding to extend the original agreement for another two years and maintain its experimental nature to evaluate the results.
The Taiwan government has maintained a consistent position on the Holy See-PRC provisional agreement on bishop appointments. As a country that fully respects religious freedom, Taiwan hopes that it can help improve the worsening situation of religious freedom in the PRC. Unfortunately, as the PRC government has stepped up measures to persecute local Catholic communities, such as further suppressing believers who resist being controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and forcing many bishops to join the CCP-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, religious freedom and human rights in China have continued to deteriorate. This so called “sinicization of religion” in the PRC has become “nationalization of religion”, even characterized by extensive CCP indoctrination. With the CCP dictating all matters, Catholics in the PRC are facing serious challenges to their faith and conscience.
According to the Code of Canon Law, all bishops of the Catholic Church around the world are appointed by the Pope; civil authorities shall not be granted any rights and privileges of election, nomination, presentation, or designation of bishops. Protecting the Pope’s authority to appoint bishops ultimately serves to safeguard freedom of religion. The Catholic Church, given its independence and universality, shall not be subject to pressure or coercion from any government, political party, or group.
MOFA will closely monitor related developments. Taiwan will continue to advance cooperation with the Holy See and the Catholic Church to jointly safeguard the core values of religious freedom and support those who are persecuted for their faith so as to steadily enhance its longstanding values-based diplomatic partnership with the Holy See. (E)