Ren (Yanli, an expert on Chinese Catholics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing) says for China, this is an issue of face. And you might think that for the Vatican, the appeal would be China's 1.3 billion souls and the potential to attract them. But Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ian Johnson says it's more than that.
Johnson, the author of a forthcoming book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, says for the Vatican, this is primarily about those who are already with the church.
"It's a way to help Catholics in China so that they're part of legitimate church," says Johnson. "And I think from Beijing's point of view, it's a way to make sure this small but perhaps influential group of Chinese is under some sort of structure the [Communist] party could feel comfortable with. They don't like having an underground church. They want to bring everybody into the fold."
Officially, there are eight bishops in China, appointed by the government-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. The Vatican doesn't recognize them. Then there are 30 Vatican-approved bishops, whom China's government won't recognize.More at the NPR.
Ian Johnson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers´request form.
Are you looking for more speakers on cultural change at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.