Catholics warn of church schism if Vatican makes a deal with China

BEIJING — A group of influential Catholics published an open letter Monday to express their shock and disappointment about a report that the Vatican could soon reach a deal with the Chinese government, warning that it could create a schism in the church in China.

The Holy See has been in negotiations for several years with the Chinese Communist Party and is now believed to be close to an agreement over the appointment of bishops in China.

That agreement, under which responsibility for the appointment of bishops would probably be shared between the Vatican and the government, could pave the way for the eventual reestablishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, cut in 1951. The deal is also expected to confer Vatican recognition on seven state-appointed bishops, who had been excommunicated by previous popes.

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