Pope Francis Image Credit: EPA

Vatican City: The Vatican announced Saturday it had reached an historic accord with China on the appointment of bishops in the Communist country which has so far named its own officials to a sole Beijing-recognised Catholic church.

The agreement follows "a gradual and reciprocal rapprochement (and) has been agreed following a long process of careful negotiation and foresees the possibility of periodic reviews of its application," the Vatican said in a statement issued as Pope Francis visits the Baltic states.

"It concerns the nomination of Bishops, a question of great importance for the life of the Church, and creates the conditions for greater collaboration at the bilateral level," it added.