"I now turn with respect to the leaders of the People’s Republic of China and renew my invitation to continue, with trust, courage and farsightedness, the dialogue begun some time ago. I wish to assure them that the Holy See will continue to work sincerely for the growth of genuine friendship with the Chinese people… At so significant a moment for the life of the Church, I want to assure you through this brief Message that you are daily present in my prayers, and to share with you my heartfelt feelings," Francis said, as quoted by the Holy See.
The bishop appointments issue was the major stumbling block to restoring diplomatic relations between Vatican and Beijing which governs China's 12-million Catholic community via the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. The association is outside the pope's authority and has been nominating China's bishops without recognition of the Holy See. Thousands of underground clergymen who refused to recognize the association and remained loyal to the pope have frequently been detained and intimidated.