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Vatican and China hold a rare high-level diplomatic meeting

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The Vatican said its foreign minister met with the Chinese foreign minister on Friday in what is believed to be the most high-level official meeting between the two sides in decades.

The meeting between Archbishop Paul Gallagher and Chinese Minister Wang Yi took place on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

In a statement, the Vatican said they discussed the historic 2018 agreement between Rome and Beijing, which gives the Vatican the last word on the appointment of bishops, an issue that has long been the subject of controversy.

The statement stated that the two sides agreed to continue the “institutional and bilateral dialogue” to benefit the Catholic Church and the Chinese people.

Relations between the Vatican and Beijing have improved since the 2018 agreement. Catholic conservatives have objected to the deal, accusing the Vatican of surrendering to the communist government.

Catholics in China are emerging from divisions that lasted for more than half a century, as they were distributed between a state-supported “official” church and a secret “informal” church that remained loyal to Rome.

The two sides now recognize the Vatican Pope as the supreme leader of the Catholic Church.

The Vatican says that failure to reach an agreement was threatening to split.

Many see the 2018 agreement on the appointment of bishops, as a prelude to the restoration of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Beijing after a break of more than 70 years.

In order to fully restore relations, the Vatican will have to cut ties with Taiwan, which China regards as its own. The Vatican is the only country in Europe that still recognizes Taiwan.

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