The vice chairman of Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, Bishop Lei Shiyin on Saturday called the reported framework accord between China and the Vatican on the appointment of bishops in China an "absolutely good thing," which Chinese experts say is a positive indication that China and the Vatican have achieved a breakthrough on the thorny issue.
The relationship between China and the Vatican will move in a direction that "meets everyone's expectations, promotes peace in China and the world, and creates a positive impact on Chinese Catholics," said Bishop Lei, who was appointed by the Chinese government.
Lei is also a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and was interviewed following the opening of the first session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee in Beijing on Saturday, Lianhe Zaobao reported on Sunday.
Lei, who has not been ordained by the Vatican, was commenting on the reported accord reached between China and the Vatican on the joint appointment and ordination of bishops. He said the two sides "only do things that are good."
Considering that Lei is backed by one of the major government-approved Catholic organizations, Lei's upbeat remarks are being seen as a reliable indicator of improved relations, Liu Guopeng, an expert at the Institute of World Religion Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Global Times on Sunday.
Zhan Silu, vice chairman of the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China, also hopes that the two sides will resume diplomatic relations, according to the Lianhe Zaobao report.
The State-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) appoints its own bishops without the approval of the Pope, while the underground community swears allegiance solely to the Vatican, which is considered illegal by the Chinese government.
Liu noted that all Vatican-related issues in China are dealt with cautiously using one voice, indicating that Lei's positive remarks in public likely have the government's tacit approval.
Newspaper headline: Beijing-Vatican agreement ‘a good thing’ says bishop