It's a deal that was decades in the making. The Vatican on Saturday signed the landmark agreement giving it a long desired say in the appointment of bishops in China. The provisional agreement gives the Holy See a decisive role in the appointment of bishops in a country where Catholics are split between and underground Church swearing loyalty to the Vatican and the state-supervised Catholic Association.
Critics are slamming the agreement as a sell out to the communist government, but Vatican says the deal is not political but pastoral in nature. As part of the deal the Pope now recognizes the legitimacy of seven remaining state-appointed Chinese bishops who had previously been named without Papal approval.
Diplomats see it as a possible precursor to a resumption in diplomatic relations with Beijing after 70 years. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke says the deal is the result of letters and initiatives dating back to John Paul II.>> This is really the work of 30 years and three pontificates.
The Vatican says that Pope Francis hoped the deal would help heal the, quote, wounds of the past.