07/03/2007, 00.00
CHINA – VATICAN
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Beijing removes Papal Letter to Chinese Church from web

Several Chinese Catholic portals uploaded the letter in simplified Chinese after its publication, but government officials “convinced” them to remove it. All the same, the letter reached the community of the faithful through different channels.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Letter of Benedict XVI to the clergy and the faithful of the People’s Republic of China has disappeared from Catholic websites which featured it after its publication. Meanwhile, in China, it is impossible to open the Internet site of the Holy See.

This was confirmed by Chinese priests and lay people, official and otherwise, who manage the various portals. Some had uploaded the test in simplified Chinese as soon as it was published, but they received a visit from government representatives who “convinced” them to remove it.

According to one priest, anonymous for security reasons, this ban “shows how true what the Pope wrote about government influence in religious affairs is”. At the same time, it “shows that the Church in China does not enjoy full religious freedom”.

And yet, in an interview prior to the publication of the letter, the vice-president of the Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics, Liu Bainian, said that the AP “would not distribute the Letter among the faithful; it could be easily downloaded from the Internet.”

Anyhow, the papal letter reached the Chinese Catholic community: sources of AsiaNews in the country said it was sent by fax or delivered by hand, or else downloaded from the Internet thanks to decoy websites which managed to elude government censorship.

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