The Government of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade, the Republic of Serbia
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHINA – BETWEEN CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
The relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and China changed depending on the rulers in power in China and the leaders of the Holy See, and accordingly the position of Roman Catholic missionaries and believers in mainland China changed. Although the problems of the spread of Roman Catholicism in China have existed for centuries, even during the existence of imperial China, which the Holy See had fought in various ways, during this research the focus will be on the relations between the two sides that begins after the founding of the PR China in 1949 by the Communist Party of China. During this period, a different understanding of the profession of faith led the Roman Catholic Church and the Chinese Communist authorities to a conflict, which would be reflected to the existence of two church hierarchies in the PR China. Due to the lack of official diplomatic relations and the unwillingness to compromise of the PR China and the Holy See this conflict will last until the second decade of the 21st century. Then the visionary policies of two world leaders, Pope Francis and President Xi Jinping, will lead to a historic Interim Agreement on the Appointment of Bishops, which is the starting point in resolving the disputes between the Holy See and Beijing. In order to conclude the negotiations, it was necessary that several different factors simultaneously have had a positive impact on the whole process. In this article, the authors talk about the history of the relationship between the Catholic Church and China over the centuries, the factors that influenced their relations, and the Provisional Agreement, which was signed as the first step towards the full normalization of relations. To prove the basic hypothesis that the Provisional Agreement, reached by the Holy See and the PR China through the visionary policies of the two leaders, paves the way for reaching a final agreement that will resolve the issue of the status of the Catholic Church in China in the long run, and eventually lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations, during the research authors will use structural-functional analysis, induction and deduction.