Bishop in China's 'Underground' Catholic Church Agrees To Resign: Report

A bishop in China’s underground Catholic Church will step down at the Vatican’s request so that a candidate approved by Beijing may assume the role, according to a report. Quoting state-run media in China, Agence France-Presse said the Vatican’s decision comes in a climate of easing tensions between the Catholic Church and China. In September, China and The Vatican came to an agreement over appointing bishops, creating the first diplomatic relations since 1951, according to the news agency. The some 12 million Catholics in China are split among those who worship at churches with clergy picked by the Communist Party and those who attend Vatican-allied places of worship. The bishop who’s set to step aside, Guo Xijin,was picked by the Pope. Chinese officials never recognized by Chinese authorities, who have previously arrested and interrogated him. Guo’s decision comes on the heels of a “rare” visit by a Vatican delegation to China, AFP notes. Guo said that he will become the auxiliary bishop. Chinese media reported that Guo was the focus of talks between the Vatican and Beijing this week, who have wanted him to depart from his post in order to improve diplomatic ties. Authorities in China have recently ramped up pressure on worshippers, including the destruction of some churches and closing of Catholic kindergartens, per AFP.