BEIJING : A secretive 2018 agreement between Beijing and the Vatican renewed on Thursday, despite strident US condemnation and warnings from Chinese priests loyal to Rome that they have only become more marginalised since it was signed.

The deal allows both Beijing and Holy See a say in appointing bishops in an attempt to close a schism in China's 12-million strong Catholic community.

Washington had put intense pressure on the Vatican to scrap the agreement, alleging it has failed to shield Chinese Catholics from persecution.

''After friendly consultations,'' both sides agreed to the extension ''for two years'', Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters last Thursday.

Conforming the renewal, the Vatican said in a statement that the accord had had a ''positive impact'', although a commentary in the Holy See's  official newspaper acknowledged ''many situations of great sufferings'' in China. [AFP]


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