Pope defends China deal on bishops, says he will have final say on names

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) – Pope Francis defended on Tuesday a landmark deal between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops, saying he, not the Beijing government, would have the final say on who was named.

In his first public comments on the deal signed in Beijing on Saturday, Francis told reporters on the plane returning from a trip to the Baltic states that he realized not everyone would understand the logic behind the deal, but that he was confident in the “great faith” of Chinese Catholics.

Critics of the deal have branded it a sellout to China’s Communist government. China’s approximately 12 million Catholics have been split between an underground Church swearing loyalty to the Vatican and the state-supervised Catholic Patriotic Association.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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