ALL IN A DAY’S WORK: PELICANS, A BANK AND CHINESE GLOVES

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK: PELICANS, A BANK AND CHINESE GLOVES

I had some errands to run today in Vatican City and it turned out to be an interesting experience.

I took the following photos as I crossed St. Peter’s Square:

So where is everybody?

Actually, the line to visit St. Peter’s is not bad – masks, social distancing…

 

Are we having fun yet?

My first stop was the bank. I discovered that now we all have to make an appointment for most transactions and I was given a piece of paper with an email address. I wrote the bank and was sent some forms to fill out and return to them by taking photos of the forms with my cell phone and attaching those to the email. There is, of course, an ATM machine (called bancomat here) so money can be withdrawn without all the above rigamarole. However, if you need any other service, there is now this procedure to go through!   What I needed to do would have personally taken maybe 6 minutes inside the bank! Fallout from Covid19, I imagine.

My next stop was the Vatican pharmacy. I chose to run my errands at what would normally be the Italian lunch hour because, over these last months, I have discovered those were the hours of almost no lines at supermarkets, etc, because Italians were at home having lunch!

The Vatican pharmacy has actually been under remodel for quite some time but a temporary pharmacy has been set up outside the medical building. In just minutes I was inside and got what I needed, including (finally) a box of 100 pairs of vinyl gloves….made in China!

You might recall reading the news in April that Chinese Bishops, Catholic faithful, the Hebei Jinde foundation, among others donated medical supplies, including masks gloves and ventilators, to the Vatican. The gesture was a thank-you for the 600,00 marks sent by the Pope in March as a gift from the Holy See and the Chinese Christian communities in Italy.

So it seems I am one of the recipients of the gloves arriving from Chinese bishops and faithful! Thank you! 谢谢  Xiexie (pronounced shay shay)

The saddest part of my time in and around Vatican City was trying to find an open restaurant or coffee bar to have a bite to eat. Streets normally filled with tourists were deserted – bars closed, restaurants dark. Finally, after a few blocks walk, I saw one coffee bar and, a few blocks from that at Pza. Risorgimento, a small restaurant open with tables outdoors.

ROME FAMILY MEETING AND LISBON WYD MOVED BACK A YEAR – BISHOPS TO ENTRUST ITALY TO PROTECTION OF MARY – “LA CIVILTÀ CATTOLICA” JOURNAL LAUNCHES NEW EDITION IN SIMPLIFIED CHINESE

ROME FAMILY MEETING AND LISBON WYD MOVED BACK A YEAR

I don’t know what to say about the following press office statement except Wow, what does this mean? I am guessing they are looking at the organizational aspects of the family meeting and World Youth Day but I presume that things have been in the early planning stages in both Rome and Lisbon for a while now. I also presume they are waiting for flights to resume and hotels to open but with this, we are looking at two and three years down the road!

Statement by Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni: “Due to the current health situation and its consequences on moving and the gatherings of young people and families, the Holy Father, together with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life has decided to postpone the 20210 World Meeting of Families in Rome for a year to June 2022 and the next World Youth Day, scheduled for Lisbon in August 2022 to be moved to August 2023.”

BISHOPS TO ENTRUST ITALY TO PROTECTION OF MARY

Welcoming the proposal and the request by many faithful, the Italian Episcopal Conference will entrust the entire country to the protection of the Mother of God as a “sign of salvation and hope” on Friday, May 1 at 9 pm, with a moment of prayer in the basilica of Santa Maria del Fonte near Caravaggio. (source ACI stampa)

May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and a big holiday in Italy.

Santa Maria del Fonte is in the province of Bergamo, one of the hardest hit regions in Italy for Covid-19. (https://www.visitbergamo.net/en/object-details/34-santuario-santa-maria-del-fonte-di-carav/

“LA CIVILTÀ CATTOLICA” JOURNAL LAUNCHES NEW EDITION IN SIMPLIFIED CHINESE

The prestigious Jesuit journal, “La Civiltà Cattolica”, has launched a new edition in simplified Chinese on the occasion of its 170th anniversary this year.

By Vatican News

Founded in 1850 by Italian Jesuits, La Civiltà Cattolica is one of the oldest periodicals in the world.  On the occasion of its 170th anniversary, its new simplified Chinese edition is also being offered as a gesture of friendship, given the increasingly important role that the Chinese language plays in the contemporary world within the global context.

Parolin – fruit of a friendly encounter

In a letter to Fr. Anthony Spadaro SJ, the Director of the Jesuit periodical, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, praised the initiative, which intends to “write a new chapter – fruit of the friendly encounter with the rich tradition of the Chinese people.”  He said this corresponds with the “particular vocation” of the review which is “to build bridges and to establish a dialogue with all people.”

“Therefore, I can only express from the depths of my heart my warmest best wishes and the fervent hope that your review in the Chinese language might become a solid instrument of mutual cultural and scientific enrichment,” the cardinal wrote.

The Italian journal,  begun before the unification of Italy, has always enjoyed a very intimate and special relationship with the Holy See and Roman Pontiffs, promoting the dialogue between the Christian faith and contemporary culture with patience and respect.

Matteo Ricci
It was precisely Pope Francis who gave La Civiltà Cattolica the model of Father Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) or Li Madou, as he was known in China. The Jesuit, who moved from Macerata in Italy’s Marche Region to China at the age of 30, drafted a huge map of the world in 1602, which served to create a wider understanding of the world and to connect the Chinese people with other civilizations.

In a divided world such as our own, said the journal in a press release, it is an ideal image of the harmony of a land at peace. Thus, our review desires to be in its own way a map of the world, connecting cultures and civilizations.
Cultural friendship

In 1601, Matteo Ricci also composed a treatise on friendship, which offered an opportunity for the Mandarin Chinese and the “literati” of the Ming Dynasty, to know the thinking of the great philosophers of the West.  For the Jesuits and for the great scholars within Western culture, the treatise also offered the foundation for dialogue with the great intellectuals of China.

According to the Rome-based Jesuit periodical, European cultures have learned much from the great Chinese culture and from the wisdom of the Chinese, thanks to the study and the passion of the Jesuits. This is the reason why the Jesuit journal decided to start a Chinese edition.

The Chinese edition contributes to making La Civiltà Cattolica more and truly international, said the press release. For some years now, its writers are all Jesuits from different countries and continents, who offer unique and original contributions.

Since 2017, the review has been published in five different languages: Italian, English, French, Spanish, and Korean; and now a Chinese edition.

The fortnightly review has always aimed to provide deeper assessments of topics and events of broad significance.

All the writers are Jesuits and the articles are reviewed and approved by an official of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State before publication.

In his message to the journal, Pope Francis expressed hope that in its pages, “the voices of many different frontiers might be heard.”  He defined the journal as “unique in its genre.”

The website address of the Chinese edition: https://www.gjwm.org. Also available as redirect are:  http://www.gongjiaowenming.org and http://cn.laciviltacattolica.org The website is sub-divided in four sections: News (新闻);  World (观世界); Christian Reflection (基督教文化研究); and Culture (文化及评论).

Linked to the website is the WeChat account of the review whose identification code is gjwm1850.

VATICAN INSIDER: INTERVIEWS IN A TIME OF QUARANTINE – POPE’S APRIL PRAYER INTENTION: “LIBERATION FROM ADDICTIONS” – FROM CHINESE CATHOLICS: “HOLY FATHER, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF”

VATICAN INSIDER: INTERVIEWS IN A TIME OF QUARANTINE

I welcome listeners to a new edition of Vatican Insider by noting that this Palm Sunday weekend around the world will be a weekend marked by empty churches because of the coronavirus quarantines in place in almost all countries of the world. However, because of wonderful technology available today, thousands, surely tens of thousands of Masses will be streamed live into the homes of tens of millions.

It is thanks to great technology that I bring you “Vatican Insider” each weekend but even the best of technology does not allow me to leave my home for interviews in this tumultuous period of Covid-19.

Because of mandatory restrictions on movements outside of one’s home, except for medical emergencies and necessary basics like food and medicine, I’ve not been able these last weeks to go out and interview guests for the interview segment of VI. Until conditions allow me to do that, we will be re-airing some previous Specials I did, including visits to the seven pilgrim churches of Rome – and that includes the four papal basilicas.

However, because we still are in Lent, this week’s Special is a profile of Rome’s celebrated Lenten Station Churches.

The first station church – Santa Sabina

I will continue to bring you the News segment and a Q&A every weekend when time allows. Thanks so much for your patience under the circumstances! I am hoping you can use the podcasts of these visits in and around Rome for the day you are finally able to visit the Eternal City again!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE’S APRIL PRAYER INTENTION: “LIBERATION FROM ADDICTIONS”

Pope Francis on Thursday released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for April, which is that “those suffering from addiction may be properly helped and accompanied.”

In his prayer intention for April 2020, Pope Francis asks everyone to pray for those who suffer from addiction, especially addiction to gambling, pornography, and the internet. It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his prayer intention for each month.

That text follows:
“Surely, you’ve heard about the drama of addiction. And, have you also thought about the addiction to gambling, to pornography, to the Internet – and the dangers of virtual space? Supported by the ‘Gospel of Mercy’ we can alleviate, care for and heal the suffering associated with new kinds of addiction. We pray that those suffering from addiction may be properly helped and accompanied.” (source: vaticannews:
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-04/pope-francis-prayer-intention-april-2020-addictions.html)

FROM CHINESE CATHOLICS: “HOLY FATHER, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF”

Beijing (Agenzia Fides) – “Holy Father, during the epidemic, may you also have your person at heart. Do it for us, 1.3 billion Catholics around the world. Please take care of yourself too!” This is the recommendation that Chinese Catholics address to Pope Francis from the bottom of their hearts. An open letter addressed to the Bishop of Rome and published today on Xinde Press (“Faith”) website, the widest platform for Chinese Catholic communication.

“The same recommendation” reads the letter, “we would like to extend to those who administer Casa Santa Marta and its secretaries: may they take care of the Pope, in this difficult period, and watch over the safety distances when he has to meet visitors. And if he must necessarily receive someone or participate in events with other people, we hope very much that the Pope will also wear a mask.”

In the words of the letter addressed to the Pope one perceives the loving concern of those who also care about the health of a person they love so much, at a time when danger is incumbent on everyone. As a gesture of faith and communion, countless Chinese Catholics remained awake or woke up on purpose in the middle of the night to follow via internet the extraordinary act of prayer in times of epidemic presided over by Pope Francis on Friday 27 March in St. Peter’s Square (in Beijing it was already one 1 am, Saturday 28 March). A large number of them are following the Pope’s spiritual suggestions every day (reciting the rosary, novena, daily prayers) to live their own Lenten spiritual journey in this time devastated by the global health emergency.

The aid collected with the coordination of Jinde Charity – as well as that sent by other communities and private citizens – is arriving in Italy and in the Vatican with the logistical support of the Italian embassy in Beijing and the Italian Foreign Ministry, which has made it possible to coordinate and organize the air transport of the collected aid. On March 28, the second shipment of aid sent by Chinese Catholics arrived at Malpensa airport (Milan), for a total value of 450,000 euros.

Through the Vatican Pharmacy, the aid was distributed to the Office of the pastoral care of the Vicariate of Rome (10,000 N95 model masks, over 500,000 disposable masks, 27,000 surgical gloves, 8,000 coveralls and 6,000 protective glasses). Large quantities of the same health devices were sent to the Diocese of Macerata, to Gemelli Hospital of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, and to the field hospital of the National Alpine Association. The first shipment of medical devices was shipped thanks to the collections of Chinese Catholics (that) had arrived in Italy two weeks ago, in which case the protective equipment had been taken over and redistributed by Caritas Ambrosiana, in the archdiocese of Milan and in Lombardy, epicenter of the pandemic. Now the third shipment is ready to leave Beijing with the first available direct flights to Italy.

Since the first outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, Pope Francis has publicly shown his closeness to the Chinese population heavily affected by the virus also with direct references expressed at the end of the Wednesday general audience or after the recitation of the Sunday Angelus. As confirmed by Mgr. Segundo Tejado Muñoz, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, quoted by Xinde Press, “through Jinde Charity, Pope Francis donated 200,000 euros unconditionally to China for prevention/epidemic projects and assistance for the elderly, to express his love for the Chinese people”.

FOR MORE: http://www.fides.org/en/news/67680-ASIA_CHINA_Covid_19_emergency_help_arrives_at_the_Vatican_and_a_letter_from_Chinese_Catholics_Holy_Father_take_care_of_yourself

IS THIS WHAT REALLY HAPPENED NEW YEAR’S EVE IN ST. PETER’S SQUARE?

IS THIS WHAT REALLY HAPPENED NEW YEAR’S EVE IN ST. PETER’S SQUARE?

This is one of the most fascinating and also credible summaries I have read of what happened New Year’s Eve in St. Peter’s Square when a woman grabbed Pope Francis hand, would not let go, he slapped her wrist and then walked away with a provoked expression on his face.

There were no eyewitnesses who clearly heard, saw and understood everything that night so news reports to this point have been lacking that major element. Conjecture has been the main ingredient thus far.

A friend made me aware of this Facebook post and I read it with bated breath, She sent this to me because of my various news stories and posts about China, knowing full well I am mystified about the Vatican’s 2018 agreement with China over the appointment of bishops and that I sympathize with Chinese Catholics of the so-called “underground” who feel they have been betrayed by Rome.

You will understand what I just wrote in the previous paragraph as soon as you click on and start reading this link. And you will understand why the Holy Father’s expression last December 31 was seemingly one of anger or deep frustration.

From the Thursday, January 9 blogspot Clay Testament: “Why destroy their faith?”: What the Asian woman said to Pope Francis before he slapped her –

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fclaytestament.blogspot.com%2F2020%2F01%2Fwhy-destroy-their-faith-what-asian.html%3Fm%3D1%26fbclid%3DIwAR22OCxP45pvLZvJFwUAHqohwDCbAcAKt6eFsfRFEMucZ70410gR326umVU&h=AT00lY24V84my9EyajcrVQFpLalTiExFlWL-sE-QApUafLvKZrOvQYUEjMeqhgV5XegKBMI3QuQcmVeG76GCUdHtDk-8IiYs75fsH1-ocHR0bJdjqvTwLLQuJapPA-ldbNUIpw

PASTORAL GUIDELINES OF THE HOLY SEE CONCERNING THE CIVIL REGISTRATION OF CLERGY IN CHINA

Here’s a good summary of the document and the issues it creates for Catholic priests in China where all clergy are asked to register with the state in order to perform their ministry. The state is also looking for loyalty from these ministers in an attempt, in particular vis-a-vis the Catholic Church, to separate them from Rome, the Pope, the Vatican. This suggests that the only loyalty that will be allowed is that to the state.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-china/vatican-says-china-intimidating-catholics-loyal-to-pope-idUSKCN1TT1MY

And here’s a CNA report that makes you weep – as I do every time I see similar stories from and about China – the reason I and countless others have been asking why the Vatican enacted the agreement it did last September 22 with the Chinese government regarding the naming of bishops: “Religion in China: ‘It’s never been worse than it is right now,’ Congress hears” – https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/religion-in-china-its-never-been-worse-than-it-is-right-now-congress-hears-37664

PASTORAL GUIDELINES OF THE HOLY SEE CONCERNING THE CIVIL REGISTRATION OF CLERGY IN CHINA

For some time requests have been received by the Holy See, from Bishops in Mainland China, for a concrete indication of the approach to be adopted in relation to the obligation of presenting an application for civil registration. In this regard, as is known, many Pastors remain deeply disturbed since the modality of such registration – which is obligatory, according to the new regulations on religious activities, on pain of inability to function pastorally – requires, almost invariably, the signing of a document in which, notwithstanding the commitment assumed by the Chinese authorities to respect also Catholic doctrine, one must declare acceptance, among other things, of the principle of independence, autonomy and self-administration of the Church in China.

The complex reality of China and the fact that there does not appear to be a uniform praxis with regard to the application of the regulations for religious affairs, make it particularly difficult to decide on the matter. On the one hand, the Holy See does not intend to force anyone’s conscience. On the other hand, it considers that the experience of clandestinity is not a normal feature of the Church’s life and that history has shown that Pastors and faithful have recourse to it only amid suffering, in the desire to maintain the integrity of their faith (cfr. Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics of 27 May 2007, n. 8). Thus, the Holy See continues to ask that the civil registration of the clergy take place in a manner that guarantees respect for the conscience and the profound Catholic convictions of the persons involved. Only in that way, in fact, can both the unity of the Church and the contribution of Catholics to the good of Chinese society be fostered.

In what concerns, then, the evaluation of the eventual declaration that must be signed upon registering, in the first place it is necessary to bear in mind that the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China formally guarantees religious freedom (art. 36). In the second place, the Provisional Agreement of 22 September 2018, recognising the particular role of the Successor of Peter, logically leads the Holy See to understand and interpret the “independence” of the Catholic Church in China not in an absolute sense, namely as separation from the Pope and the Universal Church, but rather relative to the political sphere, as happens everywhere in the world in the relations between the Universal Church and the particular Churches. To affirm that for the Catholic identity there can be no separation from the Successor of Peter, does not mean making the local Church an alien body in the society and the culture of the country in which she lives and works. In the third place, the context of the actual relations between China and the Holy See, characterised as they are by a consolidated dialogue between the two Parties, differs from that which saw the birth of the patriotic structures in the 1950s. In the fourth place, a factor of great importance should be added, namely, that over the years, many Bishops who were ordained without the apostolic mandate have asked for and received reconciliation with the Successor of Peter, so that today all Chinese Bishops are in communion with the Apostolic See and desire an ever greater integration with the Catholic Bishops of the whole world.

In light of these facts, it is legitimate to expect a new approach on the part of everyone, also when addressing practical questions about the life of the Church. For its part, the Holy See continues to dialogue with the Chinese Authorities about the civil registration of Bishops and priests in order to find a formula that, while allowing for registration, would respect not only Chinese laws but also Catholic doctrine.

In the meantime, bearing in mind what has been noted above, if a Bishop or a priest decides to register civilly, but the text of the declaration required for the registration does not appear respectful of the Catholic faith, he will specify in writing, upon signing, that he acts without failing in his duty to remain faithful to the principles of Catholic doctrine. Where it is not possible to make such a clarification in writing, the applicant will do so at least orally and if possible in the presence of a witness. In each case, it is appropriate that the applicant then certify to his proper Ordinary with what intention he has made the registration. The registration, in fact, is always to be understood as having the sole aim of fostering the good of the diocesan community and its growth in the spirit of unity, as well as an evangelisation commensurate to the new demands of Chinese society and the responsible management of the goods of the Church.

At the same time, the Holy See understands and respects the choice of those who, in conscience, decide that they are unable to register under the current conditions. The Holy See remains close to them and asks the Lord to help them to safeguard the communion with their brothers and sisters in the faith, even in the face of those trials that each one will have to face.

The bishop, for his part, “should nurture and publicly manifest his esteem for his priests, showing them trust and praising them, if they deserve it. He should respect and require others to respect their rights and should defend them against unjust criticism. He should act swiftly to resolve controversies, so as to avoid the prolonged disquiet which can overshadow fraternal charity and do damage to the pastoral ministry” (Apostolorum Successores, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, 22 February 2004, n. 77).

It is important, then, that also the lay faithful not only understand the complexity of the situation, described above, but in addition accept with an open heart the anguished decision taken by their Pastors, whatever it may be. The local Catholic community should accompany them in a spirit of faith, with prayer and affection, refraining from any judgement of the choices of others, maintaining the bond of unity and demonstrating mercy towards all.

In any case, until such time as a modality for the civil registration of the clergy that is more respectful of Catholic doctrine, and thus of the consciences of those involved, is established through a frank and constructive dialogue between the two Parties, as agreed, the Holy See asks that no intimidatory pressures be applied to the “non official” Catholic communities, as, unfortunately, has already happened.

Finally, the Holy See trusts that everyone can accept these pastoral indications as a means of helping those faced with choices that are far from simple, to make such choices in a spirit of faith and unity. All those involved – the Holy See, Bishops, priests, religious men and women and the lay faithful – are called to discern the will of God with patience and humility on this part of the journey of the Church in China, marked, as it is, by much hope but also by enduring difficulties.

From the Vatican, on 28 June 2019, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

POPE DELIVERS FINAL CATECHESIS ON THE “OUR FATHER” – POPE FRANCIS SENDS GREETINGS AND A BLESSING TO CHINESE CATHOLICS

POPE DELIVERS FINAL CATECHESIS ON THE “OUR FATHER”

In a (finally) sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience and began by noting, “Today we conclude our catechesis on the ‘Our Father’.”

He said, “Jesus has revealed to us that Christian prayer begins with the audacity to call God ‘Father’. Indeed, each of the expressions that our Lord himself uses in prayer brings to mind the text of the ‘Our Father’.

“Throughout the New Testament,” continued Francis, “it is clear that the first principle of every prayer is the Holy Spirit, who breathes into the hearts of the disciples. Herein lies the mystery of Christian prayer: that by grace we are drawn into the Holy Trinity’s dialogue of love. On the cross Jesus cries out: ‘My God, my God’, and we see here the fulcrum of his relationship with the Father. This also reflects the heart of our own trust and prayer.

The Holy Father said in conclusion, “At the end of this catechesis, let us repeat this prayer of Jesus: ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children’.”

In the multi-lingual greetings that follow the audience catechesis and summaries in seven languages, Francis, through an English-speaking monsignor from the Secretariat of State, greeted the “English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from England, Belgium, Tanzania, New Zealand, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!”

In greetings to French pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of a murdered missionary sister, whose body was found in the Central African Republic on the same day a missionary priest was killed in Mozambique. He called the Spanish missionary “a woman who has given her life for Jesus in the service of the poor.”

Sister Inés Nieves Sancho, 77, was found murdered near her home in the Central African Republic on Monday morning. Her body was found horribly mutilated at her workshop in the village of Nola, which is part of the Diocese of Berberati, according to the Osservatore Romano. At some point during the night between Sunday and Monday, unknown assailants entered Sister Inés’ home and forcibly took her to the workshop where she regularly held sewing lessons for local girls to help improve their lives. There her attackers decapitated her and mutilated her body.

There was a new language in the papal greetings today. Added to French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Polish and Italian, Francis greeted pilgrims in Ukrainian: “I cordially greet the Ukrainian pilgrims, especially the group of soldiers who participated in the annual National Military Pilgrimage in Lourdes. I continually pray to the Risen Lord, so that he fills the hearts of the Ukrainians with love and serenity and gives his peace to the whole country. God bless you all!”

After the general audience was over and Catholic prelates and several others lined up to meet the Pope, the Holy Father greeted Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. (source: vaticannews)

POPE FRANCIS SENDS GREETINGS AND A BLESSING TO CHINESE CATHOLICS

At the end of today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis, in a reference to the upcoming feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, expressed his “special closeness and affection to all the Catholics in China who, among daily labors and trials, continue to believe, to hope, and to love.”

Speaking directly to the faithful in China, the Holy Father said, “May our Mother of Heaven help you all to be witnesses of charity and fraternity, always remaining united in the communion of the universal Church.”

Francis then assured the Chinese faithful of his own prayers and his blessing, before leading the pilgrims at the audience in praying the Hail Mary for Chinese Catholics.

An image of Our Lady, Help of Christians, is found in the Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai, and is an object of special devotion to the faithful in China.

In May of 2007, in his Letter to Chinese Catholics, Benedict XVI asked that the May 24 feast of Mary, Help of Christians be celebrated as a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. The following prayer, published in 2008, was composed by Pope Benedict for the occasion:

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians”,
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!
(source: vaticannews)

CARDINAL PAROLIN: “THE POPE SEES CHINA AS A GREAT COUNTRY”

CARDINAL PAROLIN: “THE POPE SEES CHINA AS A GREAT COUNTRY”

In an unprecedented interview with an English-language Chinese newspaper – the Global Times – a sub-publication of the People’s Daily, the Vatican Secretary of State talks of positive developments in diplomatic relations between China and the Holy See, and of the mutual will to face and resolve problematic issues and questions.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

In a long Q&A conducted by an Italian correspondent for the Chinese publication, Parolin spoke of progress in the Provisional Agreement between China and the Holy See, he recalled some salient memories of his negotiations with Chinese representatives and he offered his perspective on China’s sinicization of religions, the process whereby non-Chinese societies come under the influence of Chinese culture.

Inevitable criticism
Having reiterated the will, on both sides, to look for practical solutions which concern the lives of real people who desire to practice their faith peacefully and offer a positive contribution to their own country, the Cardinal noted that there should not be a surprise if there is criticism, which can arise either in the Church or in China or from elsewhere, of an opening which can appear unprecedented after such a long period of confrontation.

Indeed, Parolin added, “it seems to me human and Christian to show understanding, attention and respect for those who express such criticism.”

The Cardinal acknowledged that not all problems have been resolved, and said that many questions still need to be addressed, adding that we are facing them with “willingness and determination.”

Sinicization and Inculturation
Regarding China’s sinicization of religions, Parolin said “Inculturation is an essential condition for a sound proclamation of the Gospel which, in order to bear fruit, requires, on the one hand, safeguarding its authentic purity and integrity and, on the other, presenting it according to the particular experience of each people and culture.”

He said that, “in the future it will certainly be important to deepen this theme, especially the relationship between ‘inculturation’ and ‘sinicization,’ keeping in mind how the Chinese leadership has been able to reiterate its willingness not to undermine the nature and the doctrine of each religion.”

Parolin went on to explain that, “These two terms, ‘inculturation’ and ‘sinicization,’ refer to each other without confusion and without opposition: in some ways, they can be complementary and can open avenues for dialogue on the religious and cultural level.”

Personal memories
Regarding his own memories and experience in dealing with Chinese representatives for many years, the Vatican Secretary of State recalled numerous hiccups, concerns and fears that inevitably have arisen throughout the process, but said the will to move forward prevailed on both sides.

He said that particularly important in creating a favorable atmosphere during negotiations, were the many moments of familiarity and friendship that arose, allowing the parties “to share the humanity that unites us beyond the differences that exist between us.”

Pope Francis
Cardinal Parolin concluded with an appeal from the Pope to Chinese Catholics “to undertake with courage the path of unity, reconciliation and a renewed proclamation of the Gospel.”

“He sees China not only as a great country but also as a great culture, rich in history and wisdom,” he said, reiterating the Holy See’s hope that “China will not be afraid to enter into dialogue with the wider world.”

“In the words of Pope Francis,” he said, “we would say that only by being united can we overcome the globalization of indifference, working as creative artisans of peace and resolute promoters of fraternity.”

For full interview in the Global Times: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1149623.shtml

75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOMBING OF VATICAN CITY STATE – POPE EXPRESSES SORROW FOR ATTACK ON COPTIC CHRISTIANS – POPE FRANCIS: ‘ A CHRISTIAN CANNOT BE AN ANTI-SEMITE’ – CHINA: FOUR UNDERGROUND PRIESTS DISAPPEAR IN POLICE CUSTODY

There’s been more disturbing news from China over the weekend as you will see in the story from AsiaNews. If you happen to be interested in the Catholic Church in Asia, and especially what’s happening in China, given the September accord between the Vatican and China on the naming of bishops, the site to visit is http://www.asianews.it/en.html

75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOMBING OF VATICAN CITY STATE

It was five minutes after eight o’clock on the evening of November 5, 1943 when bombs rained down on Vatican City State.

The attack, perpetrated by an unidentified fighter plane, caused no casualties but much destruction to the Vatican railway station and to the art laboratory where mosaics were made. The back wall of the “Governatorato” building that housed offices and private apartments was also slightly damaged.

Vaticannews photo:

According to Augusto Ferrera, author of a book entitled “1943: Bombs on the Vatican,” the aim of the bombing was to destroy Vatican Radio and its mission to keep hope alive and help families by broadcasting messages to prisoners of war.

POPE EXPRESSES SORROW FOR ATTACK ON COPTIC CHRISTIANS

It was a busy weekend for the Holy Father who on Friday, November 2, All Souls Day, celebrated Mass at Rome’s Laurentino cemetery, one of 12 in the Eternal City, and on Saturday presided at a Requiem Mass for deceased Popes at the Altar of the Chair in St Peter’s Basilica. In addition, EIGHT Cardinals and a Patriarch who dies this past year were remembered, as were 154 Bishops from nearly 40 countries.

In his homily, the Pope reflected on Jesus’ parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, as recounted in St Matthew’s Gospel, who “go out to meet the Bridegroom”. He drew a parallel between this “going out” and our own lives that, he said, are a “constant call to go forth” – from the womb to the tomb. We are always on the move, he added, “until we make our final journey”. Our life is a constant preparation for the wedding banquet, for meeting Jesus, the Bridegroom.

On Sunday, after praying the Angelus with the faithful in a rain splashed St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at the terrorist attack that struck the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt on Friday. He prayed for the victims, noting they were killed “for the mere fact of being Christians.” 7 pilgrims were killed and at least 19 others injured in the attack on two buses carrying Coptic Christians near to the monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Minya. 28 were killed there last year. Francis and the faithful then recited the Hail Mary and he asked “Mary Most Holy to console the families and the entire community in the wake of this latest terrorist attack.”

The 19 jihadists responsible for the arrack were all killed by Egyptian security forces over the weekend.

POPE FRANCIS: ‘ A CHRISTIAN CANNOT BE AN ANTI-SEMITE’

Pope Francis received a delegation from the ancient community of Mountain Jews to discuss Holocaust anniversaries and the problems of anti-Semitism today.
By John Waters (vaticannews)

Pope Francis on Monday held a meeting with representatives of the World Congress of Mountain Jews. It is the first time that a delegation from this community, which dates back to the 5th Century, has travelled to meet a Pope.

Past and present
Mountain Jews were descended from the Persian Jews, who came from modern day Iran. They were known to be great warriors and horsemen in the past. They lived in mountainous communities near the Caspian Sea for many centuries but, after the fall of the Soviet Union, are now spread across many regions, with the largest communities living in Russia and Azerbaijan.

The Pope began by recalling his most recent meeting with a Jewish community during his visit to Lithuania in September. That visit commemorated the Seventy Fifth anniversary of the destruction of the Jewish ghetto in the Lithuanian capital city, Vilnius.(Vatican photo from Lithuania visit)

Holocaust anniversaries
Pope Francis pointed out that a number of other Holocaust-related anniversaries are fast approaching. He mentioned the anniversaries of the raid on the Jewish ghetto in Rome and the anniversary of increased persecution of German Jews by the Nazi’s. The latter used to be known as ‘kristallnacht’, the ‘night of broken glass’, due to the destruction of many Jewish shop fronts and synagogues, though more recently historians have preferred terms referring to the destruction of people and lives.

“The attempt to replace the God of goodness with the idolatry of power and the ideology of hatred ended in the folly of exterminating human beings. Consequently, religious freedom is a supreme good to be safeguarded, a fundamental human right and a bulwark against the claims of totalitarianism” he said.

About 1,500 Mountain Jews were killed during the Holocaust, mostly from Crimea. Most of the community was not affected by the Holocaust, partly because Nazi forces did not reach their territories and partly because the Nazis considered them to be religious Jews, rather than racial Jews, who were a higher priority target for the Nazi regime.

Anti-Semitic attitudes
The Pope went on to note that there are still anti-Semitic attitudes in society today: “As I have often repeated, a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite; we share the same roots. It would be a contradiction of faith and life. Rather, we are called to commit ourselves to ensure anti-Semitism is banned from the human community”.

Quoting from the prophet Isaiah, Pope Francis called on all religions to help the world “Turn spears into pruning hooks” so that communities may experience a period of patient reconciliation. He ended his speech with a traditional Hebrew blessing: Shalom Aleichem!

CHINA: FOUR UNDERGROUND PRIESTS DISAPPEAR IN POLICE CUSTODY
by Bernardo Cervellera

Two priests belong to the ancient Diocese of Xiwanzi; the other two to that of Xuanhua. All four refuse to register in the Patriotic Association. For this they are subjected to indoctrination and isolation. In Shangcai (Henan), the cross of the bell tower and some spires are destroyed.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Four priests from the underground community of the diocese of Zhangjiakou (Hebei) were taken away by police because they refused to join the Patriotic Association.

The diocese of Zhangjiakou was formed by the government and includes two ancient dioceses, that of Xiwanzi and Xuanhua

Fr. Zhang Guilin of the Diocese of Xiwanzi (photo)


All priests were taken from their churches to a nearby hotel to be indoctrinated on the religious policy of the Chinese government. They are being subjected to this because they refuse to enroll in the Patriotic Association, which aims to create a Church independent of the Holy See.

According to some sources, Fr. Zhao is instead under house arrest, where he is also subjected to indoctrination.

Since China and the Vatican signed an agreement on the appointment of bishops, with which – at least in theory – the Pope is recognized as head of the Catholic Church – the Patriotic Association (PA) and the United Front have been waging a campaign to remind all priests that the Church in China “despite the agreement”, is “independent” and for this it obliges the underground priests not registered to join the Patriotic Association.

Many underground priests want to be recognized by the government, but do not want to belong to the PA, which according to Benedict XVI’s Letter to Catholics, has statutes that “are irreconcilable” with Catholic doctrine.

The message Pope Francis sent to Chinese Catholics immediately after the agreement, does not deal with this burning theme among the underground faithful. AsiaNews sources state that the Vatican’s position towards the PA has not changed and the Vatican delegation hopes to face the issue of the statutes of the PA in the future. Wang Meixiu, a religion expert at the Academy of Social Sciences, suggested that the PA should be an association with an optional membership.

In the meantime, however, both in Hebei and in Henan, the number of underground communities suppressed and unable to gather is growing. Many crosses and decorations of the sacred buildings are destroyed in the name of the sinicization of the submission of the Catholic faith to the Chinese culture, but above all to the PA and to the United Front, undermining every attempt at evangelization.

On the first of November, the Cross from the bell tower of the church of Shangcai (Henan) was destroyed, along with the spiers of the building. The church has been sealed and nobody can use it as a place of worship.

Many underground Catholics, observing the media silence on their suffering, feel “abandoned”, “forgotten” and even “betrayed”.

POPE FRANCIS GREETS 2 CHINESE BISHOPS

One way to follow Vatican coverage of the 2018 Synod of Bishops as it offers speeches by or interviews with participants, videos, live streaming of press conferences in the Holy See Press Office, can be found on the officil Vatican synod website: http://www.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/en.html

The Vaticannews site also offers #SYNOD2018

Obviously EWTN and the National Catholic Register are go-to sources!

You might also want to check the Facebook posts or Twitter pages of some of the U.S. participants – or participants you want to know about (just google Facebook or Twitter and then the person’s name).

Here’s a head start to help you:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/ArchbishopChaput/posts/?ref=page_internal

https://www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez/

https://www.facebook.com/BishopRobertBarron/

https://www.facebook.com/CardinalBCupich/

https://www.facebook.com/BishopCaggiano/

Interesting news about the two Chinese bishops present for the synod – a historic first. A I understand it, one is from the government-approved Patriotic Association and one from the underground Church that is loyal to Rome and the Pope.

I have been searching for days but without any luck for a piece I wrote a number of years ago while working at the Vatican Information Service (VIS) at the Holy See Press Office. It was just before or at the start if a synod we were covering under Pope John Paul. Bishops from mainland China had been invited to attend but never did make the synod as they were not allowed to get the proper travel documents from the government.

VIS received the text of telegrams written in Latin from the bishops in China, explaining that they would not be present. We were expected to publish the telegrams as they arrived, that is, in Latin, but I said we should translate them and provide that translation along with the original. I translated the Latin to English and gave that to my colleagues who then translated the messages into French, Spanish and Italian.

In all the years I worked at VIS, I don’t think my years of high school Latin had ever been put to such good use. I felt that Miss O’Brien, my Latin teacher at Trinity High School in River Forest, Illinois would have been very proud of me that day!

POPE FRANCIS GREETS 2 CHINESE BISHOPS

Pope Francis greets two bishops from continental China as they arrive Thursday for the second day’s session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocation discernment.

The Synod on young people began with Mass in St. Peter’s Square on October 3. (vaticannews photo)

During the homily at Mass, the Holy Father prayed that the Spirit grant the Synod Fathers the grace to dream and to hope, so as to be able to anoint young people with the gifts of prophesy and vision.

Click here for video: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-10/synod-youth-2018-pope-china.html#play

POPE TO CHINESE CATHOLICS: BE FAITHFUL, SEEK RECONCILIATION, CULTIVATE DIALOGUE

POPE TO CHINESE CATHOLICS: BE FAITHFUL, SEEK RECONCILIATION, CULTIVATE DIALOGUE

Throughout his Message to Catholics in China and to the Universal Church, the Pope has specific words for “brother bishops,” priests and consecrated persons, for lay faithful an especially for young people.

The Holy Father writes that he sees “China as a land of great opportunities and the Chinese people as the creators and guardians of an inestimable patrimony of culture and wisdom, refined by resisting adversity and embracing diversity, and which, not by chance, entered into contact from early times with the Christian message.”

He tells Catholics: “I want to confirm you in this faith (cf. Lk 22:32) – in the faith of Abraham, in the faith of the Virgin Mary, in the faith you have received –and to ask you to place your trust ever more firmly in the Lord of history and in the Church’s discernment of his will. May all of us implore the gift of the Spirit to illumine our minds, warm our hearts and help us to understand where he would lead us, in order to overcome inevitable moments of bewilderment, and to find the strength to set out resolutely on the road ahead.”

A church in China: AsiaNews photo

The Pope notes that conflicting reports “may have caused a certain confusion and prompted different reactions in the hearts of many. Some feel doubt and perplexity, while others sense themselves somehow abandoned by the Holy See and anxiously question the value of their sufferings endured out of fidelity to the Successor of Peter. In many others, there prevail positive expectations and reflections inspired by the hope of a more serene future for a fruitful witness to the faith in China.”

Francis also acknowledges that he had “determined to grant reconciliation to the remaining seven “official” bishops ordained without papal mandate and, having lifted every relevant canonical sanction, to readmit them to full ecclesial communion. At the same time, I ask them to express with concrete and visible gestures their restored unity with the Apostolic See and with the Churches spread throughout the world, and to remain faithful despite any difficulties.”

By “official bishops,” the Pope is referring to those bishops of the government-approved Patriotic Church who were ordained to the episcopacy without a papal mandate.

He says, “The Provisional Agreement signed with the Chinese authorities, while limited to certain aspects of the Church’s life and necessarily capable of improvement, can contribute – for its part – to writing this new chapter of the Catholic Church in China. For the first time, the Agreement sets out stable elements of cooperation between the state authorities and the Apostolic See, in the hope of providing the Catholic community with good shepherds.”

In Para 10, Francis addresses China’s leaders: “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. The present contacts between the Holy See and the Chinese government are proving useful for overcoming past differences, even those of the more recent past, and for opening a new chapter of more serene and practical cooperation, in the shared conviction that “incomprehension [serves] the interests of neither the Chinese people nor the Catholic Church in China” (BENEDICT XVI, Letter to Chinese Catholics, 27 May 2007, 4).”

He concludes with a prayer invoking the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary.

Following is that entire Message:

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Catholics of China and to the Universal Church

“Eternal is his merciful love; He is faithful from age to age” (Psalm 100:5)

Dear brother bishops, priests, consecrated men and women and all the faithful of the Catholic Church in China, let us thank the Lord, for “eternal is his merciful love! He made us, we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep of his flock” (Ps 100:3). At this moment, my heart echoes the words of exhortation addressed to you by my venerable predecessor in his Letter of 27 May 2007: “Catholic Church in China, you are a small flock present and active within the vastness of an immense people journeying through history. How stirring and encouraging these words of Jesus are for you: ‘Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom’ (Lk 12:32)! … Therefore, ‘let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven’ (Mt 5:16)” (BENEDICT XVI, Letter to Chinese Catholics, 27 May 2007, 5).

1. Of late, many conflicting reports have circulated about the present and, in particular, the future of the Catholic communities in China. I am aware that this flurry of thoughts and opinions may have caused a certain confusion and prompted different reactions in the hearts of many. Some feel doubt and perplexity, while others sense themselves somehow abandoned by the Holy See and anxiously question the value of their sufferings endured out of fidelity to the Successor of Peter. In many others, there prevail positive expectations and reflections inspired by the hope of a more serene future for a fruitful witness to the faith in China. This situation has become more acute, particularly with regard to the Provisional Agreement between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China, which, as you know, was signed in recent days in Beijing. 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. They are sentiments of thanksgiving to the Lord and of sincere admiration – which is the admiration of the entire Catholic Church – for the gift of your fidelity, your constancy amid trials, and your firm trust in God’s providence, even when certain situations proved particularly adverse and difficult. These painful experiences are part of the spiritual treasury of the Church in China and of all God’s pilgrim people on earth. I assure you that the Lord, through the crucible of our trials, never fails to pour out his consolations upon us and to prepare us for an even greater joy. In the words of the Psalmist, we are more than certain that “those who are sowing in tears, will sing when they reap” (Ps 126[125]:5). Let us continue to look, then, to the example of all those faithful laity and pastors who readily offered their “good witness” (cf. 1 Tim 6:13) to the Gospel, even to the sacrifice of their own lives. They showed themselves true friends of God!

2. For my part, I have always looked upon China as a land of great opportunities and the Chinese people as the creators and guardians of an inestimable patrimony of culture and wisdom, refined by resisting adversity and embracing diversity, and which, not by chance, entered into contact from early times with the Christian message. As Father Matteo Ricci, S.J., perceptively noted in challenging us to the virtue of trust, “before entering into friendship, one must observe; after becoming friends, one must trust” (De Amicitia, 7). I too am convinced that encounter can be authentic and fruitful only if it occurs through the practice of dialogue, which involves coming to know one another, to respect one another and to “walk together” for the sake of building a common future of sublime harmony. This is the context in which to view the Provisional Agreement, which is the result of a lengthy and complex institutional dialogue between the Holy See and the Chinese authorities initiated by Saint John Paul II and continued by Pope Benedict XVI. Through this process, the Holy See has desired – and continues to desire – only to attain the Church’s specific spiritual and pastoral aims, namely, to support and advance the preaching of the Gospel, and to reestablish and preserve the full and visible unity of the Catholic community in China. With regard to the importance of this Agreement and its aims, I would like to share with you a few reflections and provide you with some input of a spiritual pastoral nature for the journey we are called to undertake in this new phase. It is a journey that, as in its earlier stages, “requires time and presupposes the good will of both parties” (BENEDICT XVI, Letter to Chinese Catholics, 27 May 2007, 4). But for the Church, within and outside of China, this involves more than simply respecting human values. It is also a spiritual calling: to go out from herself to embrace “the joys and the hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially those who are poor or afflicted” (SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 1) and the challenges of the present that God entrusts to us. It is thus an ecclesial summons to become pilgrims along the paths of history, trusting before all else in God and in his promises, as did Abraham and our fathers in the faith.

Called by God, Abraham obeyed by setting out for an unknown land that he was to receive as an inheritance, without knowing the path that lay ahead. Had Abraham demanded ideal social and political conditions before leaving his land, perhaps he would never have set out. Instead, he trusted in God and in response to God’s word he left his home and its safety. It was not historical changes that made him put his trust in God; rather, it was his pure faith that brought about a change in history. For faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received [God’s] approval” (Heb 11:1-2).

3. As the Successor of Peter, I want to confirm you in this faith (cf. Lk 22:32) – in the faith of Abraham, in the faith of the Virgin Mary, in the faith you have received –and to ask you to place your trust ever more firmly in the Lord of history and in the Church’s discernment of his will. May all of us implore the gift of the Spirit to illumine our minds, warm our hearts and help us to understand where he would lead us, in order to overcome inevitable moments of bewilderment, and to find the strength to set out resolutely on the road ahead. Precisely for the sake of supporting and promoting the preaching of the Gospel in China and reestablishing full and visible unity in the Church, it was essential, before all else, to deal with the issue of the appointment of bishops. Regrettably, as we know, the recent history of the Catholic Church in China has been marked by deep and painful tensions, hurts and divisions, centred especially on the figure of the bishop as the guardian of the authenticity of the faith and as guarantor of ecclesial communion. When, in the past, it was presumed to determine the internal life of the Catholic communities, imposing direct control above and beyond the legitimate competence of the state, the phenomenon of clandestinity arose in the Church in China. This experience – it must be emphasized – is not a normal part of the life of the Church and “history shows that pastors and faithful have recourse to it only amid suffering, in the desire to maintain the integrity of their faith” (BENEDICT XVI, Letter to Chinese Catholics, 27 May 2007, 8). I would have you know that, from the time I was entrusted with the Petrine ministry, I have experienced great consolation in knowing the heartfelt desire of Chinese Catholics to live their faith in full communion with the universal Church and with the Successor of Peter, who is “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 23). In these years, I have received numerous concrete signs and testimonies of that desire, including from bishops who have damaged communion in the Church as a result of weakness and errors, but also, and not infrequently, due to powerful and undue pressure from without. Consequently, after carefully examining every individual personal situation, and listening to different points of view, I have devoted much time to reflection and prayer, seeking the true good of the Church in China. In the end, before the Lord and with serenity of judgment, in continuity with the direction set by my immediate predecessors, I have determined to grant reconciliation to the remaining seven “official” bishops ordained without papal mandate and, having lifted every relevant canonical sanction, to readmit them to full ecclesial communion. At the same time, I ask them to express with concrete and visible gestures their restored unity with the Apostolic See and with the Churches spread throughout the world, and to remain faithful despite any difficulties.

4. In the sixth year of my Pontificate, which I have placed from the beginning under the banner of God’s merciful love, I now invite all Chinese Catholics to work towards reconciliation. May all be mindful, with renewed apostolic zeal, of the words of Saint Paul: “God… has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18). Indeed, as I wrote at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, “no law or precept can prevent God from once more embracing the son who returns to him admitting that he has done wrong but intending to start his life anew. Remaining only at the level of the law is equivalent to thwarting faith and divine mercy… Even in the most complex cases, where there is a temptation to apply a justice derived from rules alone, we must believe in the power flowing from divine grace” (Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera, 20 November 2016, 11). In this spirit, and in line with the decisions that have been made, we can initiate an unprecedented process that we hope will help to heal the wounds of the past, restore full communion among all Chinese Catholics, and lead to a phase of greater fraternal cooperation, in order to renew our commitment to the mission of proclaiming the Gospel. For the Church exists for the sake of bearing witness to Jesus Christ and to the forgiving and saving love of the Father.

5. The Provisional Agreement signed with the Chinese authorities, while limited to certain aspects of the Church’s life and necessarily capable of improvement, can contribute – for its part – to writing this new chapter of the Catholic Church in China. For the first time, the Agreement sets out stable elements of cooperation between the state authorities and the Apostolic See, in the hope of providing the Catholic community with good shepherds. In this context, the Holy See intends fully to play its own part. Yet an important part also falls to you, the bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful: to join in seeking good candidates capable of taking up in the Church the demanding and important ministry of bishop. It is not a question of appointing functionaries to deal with religious issues, but of finding authentic shepherds according to the heart of Jesus, men committed to working generously in the service of God’s people, especially the poor and the most vulnerable. Men who take seriously the Lord’s words: “Whoever would become great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be the slave of all” (Mk 10:43-44). In this regard, it seems clear that an Agreement is merely an instrument, and not of itself capable of resolving all existing problems. Indeed, it will prove ineffective and unproductive, unless it is accompanied by a deep commitment to renewing personal attitudes and ecclesial forms of conduct.

6. On the pastoral level, the Catholic community in China is called to be united, so as to overcome the divisions of the past that have caused, and continue to cause great suffering in the hearts of many pastors and faithful. All Christians, none excluded, must now offer gestures of reconciliation and communion. In this regard, let us keep in mind the admonition of Saint John of the Cross: “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love” (Dichos, 64). On the civil and political level, Chinese Catholics must be good citizens, loving their homeland and serving their country with diligence and honesty, to the best of their ability. On the ethical level, they should be aware that many of their fellow citizens expect from them a greater commitment to the service of the common good and the harmonious growth of society as a whole. In particular, Catholics ought to make a prophetic and constructive contribution born of their faith in the kingdom of God. At times, this may also require of them the effort to offer a word of criticism, not out of sterile opposition, but for the sake of building a society that is more just, humane and respectful of the dignity of each person.

7. I now turn to you, my brother bishops, priests and consecrated persons who “serve the Lord with gladness” (Ps 100:2). Let us recognize one another as followers of Christ in the service of God’s people. Let us make pastoral charity the compass for our ministry. Let us leave behind past conflicts and attempts to pursue our own interests, and care for the faithful, making our own their joys and their sufferings. Let us work humbly for reconciliation and unity. With energy and enthusiasm, let us take up the path of evangelization indicated by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. To everyone, I say once more with great affection: “Let us be inspired to act by the example of all those priests, religious, and laity who devote themselves to proclamation and to serving others with great fidelity, often at the risk of their lives and certainly at the cost of their comfort. Their testimony reminds us that, more than bureaucrats and functionaries, the Church needs passionate missionaries, enthusiastic about sharing true life. The saints surprise us; they confound us, because by their lives they urge us to abandon a dull and dreary mediocrity” (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, 19 March 2018, 138). I ask you wholeheartedly to beg for the grace not to hesitate when the Spirit calls us to take a step forward: “Let us ask for the apostolic courage to share the Gospel with others and to stop trying to make our Christian life a museum of memories. In every situation, may the Holy Spirit cause us to contemplate history in the light of the risen Jesus. In this way, the Church will not stand still, but constantly welcome the Lord’s surprises” (ibid., 139).

8. In this year, when the entire Church celebrates the Synod on Young People, I would like to say a special word to you, young Chinese Catholics, who enter the gates of the house of the Lord “giving thanks [and] with songs of praise” (Ps 100:4). I ask you to cooperate in building the future of your country with the talents and gifts that you have received, and with the youthfulness of your faith. I encourage you to bring, by your enthusiasm, the joy of the Gospel to everyone you meet. Be ready to accept the sure guidance of the Holy Spirit, who shows today’s world the path to reconciliation and peace. Let yourselves be surprised by the renewing power of grace, even when it may seem that the Lord is asking more of you than you think you can give. Do not be afraid to listen to his voice as he calls you to fraternity, encounter, capacity for dialogue and forgiveness, and a spirit of service, regardless of the painful experiences of the recent past and wounds not yet healed. Open your hearts and minds to discern the merciful plan of God, who asks us to rise above personal prejudices and conflicts between groups and communities, in order to undertake a courageous fraternal journey in the light of an authentic culture of encounter. Nowadays there is no lack of temptations: the pride born of worldly success, narrowmindedness and absorption in material things, as if God did not exist. Go against the flow and stand firm in the Lord: “for he is good; eternal is his merciful love; he is faithful from age to age” (Ps 100:5).

9. Dear brothers and sisters of the universal Church, all of us are called to recognize as one of the signs of our times everything that is happening today in the life of the Church in China. We have an important duty: to accompany our brothers and sisters in China with fervent prayer and fraternal friendship. Indeed, they need to feel that in the journey that now lies ahead, they are not alone. They need to be accepted and supported as a vital part of the Church. “How good and pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together in unity!” (Ps 133:1). Each local Catholic community in every part of the world should make an effort to appreciate and integrate the spiritual and cultural treasures proper to Chinese Catholics. The time has come to taste together the genuine fruits of the Gospel sown in the ancient “Middle Kingdom” and to raise to the Lord Jesus Christ a hymn of faith and thanksgiving, enriched by authentically Chinese notes.

10. 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. The present contacts between the Holy See and the Chinese government are proving useful for overcoming past differences, even those of the more recent past, and for opening a new chapter of more serene and practical cooperation, in the shared conviction that “incomprehension [serves] the interests of neither the Chinese people nor the Catholic Church in China” (BENEDICT XVI, Letter to Chinese Catholics, 27 May 2007, 4).

In this way, China and the Apostolic See, called by history to an arduous yet exciting task, will be able to act more positively for the orderly and harmonious growth of the Catholic community in China. They will make efforts to promote the integral development of society by ensuring greater respect for the human person, also in the religious sphere, and will work concretely to protect the environment in which we live and to build a future of peace and fraternity between peoples.

In China, it is essential that, also on the local level, relations between the leaders of ecclesial communities and the civil authorities become more productive through frank dialogue and impartial listening, so as to overcome antagonism on both sides. A new style of straightforward daily cooperation needs to develop between local authorities and ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, priests and community elders – in order to ensure that pastoral activities take place in an orderly manner, in harmony with the legitimate expectations of the faithful and the decisions of competent authorities. This will help make it clear that the Church in China is not oblivious to Chinese history, nor does she seek any privilege. Her aim in the dialogue with civil authorities is that of “building a relationship based on mutual respect and deeper understanding” (ibid.).

11. In the name of the whole Church, I beg the Lord for the gift of peace, and I invite all to join me in invoking the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary:

Mother of Heaven, hear the plea of your children as we humbly call upon your name!

Virgin of Hope, we entrust to you the journey of the faithful in the noble land of China. We ask you to present to the Lord of history the trials and tribulations, the petitions and the hopes of all those who pray to you, O Queen of Heaven!

Mother of the Church, we consecrate to you the present and the future of our families and our communities. Protect and sustain them in fraternal reconciliation and in service to the poor who bless your name, O Queen of Heaven!

Consolation of the Afflicted, we turn to you, for you are the refuge of all who weep amid their trials. Watch over your sons and daughters who praise your name; make them one in bringing the proclamation of the Gospel. Accompany their efforts to build a more fraternal world. Grant that they may bring the joy of forgiveness to all whom they meet, O Queen of Heaven!

Mary, Help of Christians, for China we implore days of blessing and of peace. Amen!

From the Vatican, 26 September 2018