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Chinese Catholic Bishop Zhang Hong blesses the flame used to light the Paschal Candle at a mass during Easter celebrations in 2017 in Beijing. Photo: Kevin Fraye r/ Getty Images

The Vatican appears close to a deal with Beijing to settle a long running dispute over who has the power to appoint bishops, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The Vatican, which believes there are roughly 10 million–15 million Catholics in China, appears to be bending to the will of the atheist Chinese Communist Party. This is a concern to Taiwan, because a Beijing-Vatican official diplomatic rapprochement would require the Vatican to drop official diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of the PRC.

Per Reuters:

“A framework accord between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops is ready and could be signed in a few months in what would be an historic breakthrough in relations, a senior Vatican source said.”
"Catholics in China are split between those in 'underground' communities that [recognize] the pope and those belonging to a state-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association where bishops are appointed by the government in collaboration with local Church communities."
"Under the formal deal, the Vatican will have a say in negotiations for the appointment of future bishops."

Go deeper: John L. Allen Jr., editor of Crux, offers 4 reasons the Vatican appears “so eager" for a deal:

1.”There are Catholics in China — somewhere between 10 and 15 million, according to most estimates, though no one knows for sure due to the difficulties of doing reliable religious surveys.”

2.”The Vatican has its own diplomatic corps, aspiring to be a voice of conscience on the global stage...the Vatican understands that if you’re not talking directly to Beijing, you’re basically out of the loop.”

3. “There’s a deep romance about China nurtured over centuries in the Catholic psyche, associated with legendary figures such as Matteo Ricci and St. Francis Xavier. There’s also a nagging historical sense that the Church sort of blew it with the Chinese Rites controversy in the 17th and 18th centuries.”

4. “The Vatican also understands that China is rich with missionary potential…Many experts regard China as the world’s last truly competitive spiritual marketplace.”

Go deeper

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.

Colleyville Rabbi credits survival to active-shooter training

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the people taken hostage in a synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, said in an interview with CBS Monday that he initially took in the man because he thought he needed shelter.

The big picture: Cytron-Walker said he spoke to the hostage taker, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, for several minutes and made him tea before Akram took the rabbi and three other people hostage during Shabbat services for around 11 hours in Colleyville, Texas.

Book bans are back in style

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

School districts from Pennsylvania to Wyoming are bowing to pressure from some conservative groups to review — then purge from public school libraries — books about LGBTQ issues and people of color.

Why it matters: A pivotal midterm election year, COVID frustrations and a backlash against efforts to call out systemic racism — driven disproportionately by white, suburban and rural parents — have made public schools ground zero in the culture wars.