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China and the Vatican sign Landmark Deal about bishops

China and the Vatican sign Landmark Deal about bishops

China and the Vatican will sign a milestone agreement later this month that is a long battle between the communist leaders in Beijing and the pope over whom the leaders of Catholicism choose in the world's most populous country, according to two people who know the issue , to end.

The reactions to the deal, which gives both parties control over the appointment of the bishops of the church in China, are likely to be strongly divided, with some of them pronouncing a diplomatic coup by the Vatican that moves China closer to the West and warn others of important defeat for the principle of religious freedom.

The controversial deal would include the first official recognition by Beijing that the pope is the head of the Catholic Church in China. In return, Pope Francis would formally recognize seven excommunicated Chinese bishops who had been appointed by the Communist government without Vatican approval.

"It is a small step for China to recognize part of the framework of the Western world," said Francesco Sisci, an Italian who teaches international relations at the Chinese university Renmin in Beijing. "It does not go as far as recognizing what we call religious freedom in the West, but it is a degree of religious autonomy."

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