“I thank the Lord that, for the first time after so many years, all the bishops in China are in full communion with the Successor of Peter and with the universal Church”. Pope Francis said this in his traditional address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See at the beginning of the new year, in which he welcomed one of the most important achievements of Vatican diplomacy in the past year: the signing, on 22 September, of the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China on the Appointment of Bishops in China. This Agreement, Pope Francis recalled, “is the result of a lengthy and thoughtful institutional dialogue that led to the determination of certain stable elements of cooperation between the Apostolic See and the civil authorities”. Previously, “I had already readmitted to full ecclesial communion the remaining official bishops ordained without pontifical mandate, and urged them to work generously for the reconciliation of Chinese Catholics and for a renewed effort of evangelization”, the Pope stressed, adding that “a visible sign of this was the participation of two bishops from Continental China in the recent Synod on young people”. It is to be hoped that “further contacts regarding the application of the signed Provisional Agreement will help resolve questions that remain open and make needed room for an effective enjoyment of religious freedom”. At the beginning of his speech, Pope Francis also made reference to “beloved Nicaragua”, “whose situation I follow closely”, he said, “in prayerful hope that the various political and social groups may find in dialogue the royal road to an exchange beneficial to the entire nation”. Another notable achievement in 2018 was “the consolidation of relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, with a view to the appointment, in the near future, of a resident Papal Representative, whose presence would serve above all as a sign of the solicitude of the Successor of Peter for that local Church”. Reference was also made to the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe, an organization with which “the Holy See has cooperated for many decades”, recognising “its specific role in the promotion of human rights, democracy and legality in an area that would embrace Europe as a whole”.