02/02/2007, 00.00
CHINA – VATICAN

Pope’s letter to the Chinese Church ready “around Easter”, says Cardinal Zen

The bishop of Hong Kong explains that the letter will contain “prudent” wording about relations between Beijing and the Holy See. It will put forward the “Vietnam model” as a good compromise for Episcopal ordination.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Pope Benedict's letter to Chinese Catholics will be completed around Easter. Its wording about relations between Beijing and the Holy See will be “prudent,” said Card Zen Ze-kiun, bishop of Hong Kong, in an interview with the diocesan weekly Kung Kao Po.

According to Mgr Zen, a prudent dialogue is possible with the Chinese government but “on religious freedom, the Vatican should have a clear stance. This is not an irrational request.”

He noted that the "Vietnam model", which allows the Vatican and the government to select bishops, was "quite good". Specifically, the model allows the Vatican to present several appropriate candidates to the government and after considering opinions expressed by the government, the Pope would make a final decision.

This is an “acceptable compromise” also because Vietnam also does not have a patriotic association like China, which is seen as "illicit and unacceptable" by the Roman Catholic Church.

The decision to write a letter to Chinese faithful was taken during a Vatican's meeting on ‘The Situation of the Catholic Church in Mainland China’ held on January 19-20.

Chinese bishops from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan took part in the deliberations as did officials from the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. The meeting was chaired by the Secretary of State, Card Tarcisio Bertone.

According to some sources, the Vatican is working on a 20-page letter.

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