China and Vatican agree on bishop appointment
The Vatican said it accepted seven bishops that were ordained by China without the Vatican’s blessing in a “provisional agreement” after decades of severed relations.
In an agreement that was signed in Beijing, the Vatican said all bishops in China are now in communion with Rome. China cut ties with the Vatican in 1951 after demanding to approve bishop appointments in the country. The Vatican retains papal authority to appoint bishops.
“Pope Francis hopes that, with these decisions, a new process may begin that will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome, leading to the full communion of all Chinese Catholics,” a Vatican statement said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it “will continue to maintain communications and push forward the process of improving relations between the two sides.”
Despite hopes for communion, the Chinese Catholic Church remains split between Catholics registered under the official Chinese Church and those in the underground church that remained faithful to Rome during the period of severed relations. In March, Chinese authorities arrested Bishop Guo Xijin, who heads an underground diocese, in the southern village of Saiqi. Authorities later released Guo but banned him from celebrating a Holy Week Mass. —O.O.
Japanese leader secures another three years
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on track to spend another three years in power after securing a landslide victory as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Abe garnered 533 of the 807 votes in a clear victory against his sole opponent, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba. Abe, who has served as the country’s prime minister since 2012, could become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister in 2021. Abe said he will use his last term to reform his country’s social security program and seek policies to “sum up” the country’s postwar diplomacy.
But his highest priority remains revising the country’s pacifist post-war constitution, which was drafted by the United States. Many Japanese conservatives view the constitution as a disgrace for the country after it surrendered at the end of World War II.
“It’s time to tackle a constitutional revision,” Abe said in his victory speech. “Let’s work together to make a new Japan.” —O.O.
Rohingya probe begins
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is launching a preliminary investigation into forced deportations of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, also known as Burma, into Bangladesh. Fatou Bensouda said the investigation will determine whether the deportations constitute a war crime or crimes against humanity. The court’s judges authorized her to investigate earlier this month.
Myanmar’s military drew international condemnation after it staged a widespread crackdown on the Rohingya that led about 700,000 people to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Rights groups accused the military of rape, torture, and other human rights violations.
The investigation will look into reports of “a number of alleged coercive acts having resulted in the forced displacement of the Rohingya people, including deprivation of fundamental rights, killing, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, destruction and looting,” Bensouda said. —O.O.