Taipei, Taiwan is closely monitoring a reported deal between China and the Holy See that could be sealed soon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Thursday.
The ministry is well aware of ongoing dialogue between the Vatican and Beijing and said it will continue to closely monitor developments, MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (???) said.
Lee, however, declined to comment on whether the two sides have made a breakthrough on the matter.
According to media reports, the Vatican has made concessions to Beijing on the appointment of bishops in China -- which would be a significant breakthrough between the two sides.
Even if there is such a breakthrough, Lee said, the Holy See has repeatedly reassured Taipei that the agreement will be purely on religious affairs and will not affect bilateral ties.
The Union of Catholic Asian News reported in late August that Beijing and the Vatican will hold a new round of talks this month to resolve the issue.
The Hong Kong-based Chinese language Kung Kao Po newspaper also reported last month that the deal is scheduled to be signed before October.
The latest news adds to a growing list of developments that taken together indicate that the Vatican and Beijing are closer than ever, with the former making many goodwill gestures to China, especially since Pope Francis assumed the papacy in March 2013.
Catholics in China are currently split between those in so-called "underground churches" that recognize the pope in the Holy See and those belonging to a Chinese state-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association in which bishops are appointed by the government in collaboration with local church communities.
Under the anticipated deal, the Vatican will have a say in negotiations for the appointment of future bishops, according to foreign media reports, bringing the two sides closer on a key issue that has divided them.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel