Battle of the Bishops

How China's two unauthorized promotions have renewed its long-running feud with the Vatican

It's not surprising, given their common penchant for intrigue and suspicion, that the rulers of China and the Roman Catholic Church have had a hard time getting along. Beginning five centuries ago, emissaries from the Vatican visited Beijing to seek permission to conduct missionary work in China. During the Qing dynasty they built iron globes and trellises for the Emperor--astronomical instruments that at the time were considered cutting-edge technology. That approach didn't work: a later Emperor banned all Christian missionary activity, sending the clerics packing. He kept the Vatican's gifts, however, on a tower overlooking the thick stone walls that once...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!