For the past seven years, I have been the head of Open Doors USA, a non-profit organization that works to strengthen persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries, a seat at the forefront of religious persecution in China. The Chinese government is one of the most famous violations of religious freedom in the world and the situation has deteriorated since the Vatican signed the agreement. The Church`s mission is to nurture and protect its 1.2 billion members worldwide, but in China it has betrayed the faithful. Pope Francis, attached to the culture of dialogue and encounter and opposed to confrontation, gave the green light to the extension, despite the pressure of denouncing the agreement. External pressure was exerted by various political actors, including the United States, as expressed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while internal pressure was exerted by parts of the Church, including cardinals such as Joseph Zen of Hong Kong and Gerhard Muller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “My main objection to the agreement is that we don`t know what it is,” said U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, the de facto leader of Pope Francis` criticism in the church, in a brief interview, before welcoming Pompeo to an event hosted by the U.S. Embassy at the Vatican last month. After years of slow negotiations, the Vatican sealed a historic “temporary” agreement with Beijing on September 22, 2018. The announcement extended a landmark agreement in 2018 by two years, ending decades of struggle for power over the right to appoint bishops in China, despite concerns about religious freedom and human rights in the country. “The Holy See considers the initial implementation of the Agreement – which is of great ecclesial and pastoral value – to be positive through good communication and cooperation between the parties on the agreed issues and intends to conduct an open and constructive dialogue for the good of the life of the Catholic Church and for the good of the Chinese people,” he said. Two years ago, the Holy See reached an agreement with the Chinese Communist Party in the hope of helping Chinese Catholics. But the CCP`s abuse of believers has only worsened.
The Vatican jeopardizes its moral authority if it extends the agreement. t.co/fl0TEnYxKS The agreement reflects the Chinese government`s long-standing desire to end the Recognition of the Taiwanese Government by the Holy See, even as Secretary-General Xi Jinping`s Chinese Communist Party continues the campaign launched in the spring of 2018 to strengthen control of foreign religious institutions.  In October 2018, Chinese local authorities destroyed two Marian shrines, one in Shanxi and the other in Guizhou.  In an article published in L`Osservatore Romano on the day of the announcement of the extension, the “priority objective” of the agreement on the appointment of bishops in China is to “maintain and promote the proclamation of the Gospel in this country and to restore the full and visible unity of the Church.” He added that “the main motivations” that guide the Holy See in its dialogue with the Chinese authorities “are fundamentally ecclesiological and pastoral,” because the issue of the appointment of bishops “is essential for the life of the Church, both locally and universally.” One of the seven bishops, recognized by the pope, Vincent Zhan Silu, told Chinese state media that the agreement “sends a strong signal that [the government] wants to see the healthy development of the Church in China.” Members of the underground church who had not previously registered with the government should now feel “encouraged,” he said.