(CHRISTIAN TODAY) – Catholic bishops from China will for the first time attend a major Vatican meeting starting this week, the Vatican said on Monday, following a landmark agreement between the Holy See and Beijing.

‘There will be two bishops from continental China. They were invited by the pope,’ Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri told a news conference. ‘I think they are already on their way to Rome.’

The bishops will take part in a month-long meeting, known as a synod, that starts on Wednesday to discuss the role of young people in the 1.2 billion-member Church.

‘In the past the Holy See invited bishops from continental China but they were never able to attend,’ Baldisseri said.

Baldisseri said it was the first time the Beijing government has allowed bishops to leave the country to attend a Vatican synod, meetings which take place every few years on a different topic.