Vatican City (AsiaNews) - From March 22 to 24, the Commission that Pope Benedict XVI set up in 2007 to explore issues of greatest importance, concerning the life of the Catholic Church in China, met in the Vatican for the third time.
In a deep spiritual closeness with all brothers and sisters in the faith who live in China, the participants explored the theme of human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation of seminarians and consecrated persons and the ongoing formation of priests, with particular attention to their spirituality. The difficulties encountered in the field of formation, and the new pastoral needs, which are related with the task of evangelizing a society as dynamic, articulate and complex as China, are major challenges. The Bishops of the Catholic Church in China, whose full dignity and responsibility as leaders of the church communities should be recognized, are engaged firsthand in the task of formation: in union with them, we continue to offer a friendly collaboration, recognizing that the true Christian education is, first of all, Christ “to know Him and the power of His resurrection and (the) sharing of His sufferings" (Philippians 3, 10).
In light of the Holy Father's Letter to Chinese Catholics, 27 May 2007, the Commission has reflected on ways to promote unity within the Catholic Church in China and overcome the difficulties it experiences in its relations with civil society. The steps taken in response to the Popes invitation to an authentic ecclesial communion, which can not be expressed without a personal effort to seek the truth and spiritual reconciliation, were noted with pleasure. Together with the knowledge that the path of forgiveness and reconciliation can not be accomplished overnight, the certainty has emerged that the entire Church accompanies this journey and raises an insistent prayer to this effect, particularly on 24 May, the day dedicated to the liturgical memory of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians on the occasion of World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. The need to take urgent steps to enhance and demonstrate the spiritual ties between the pastors and faithful was also underlined.
At the same time, the participants unanimously expressed the wish that all the bishops in China be increasingly engaged in fostering the growth of unity of faith and life of all Catholics, thus avoiding to make gestures (such as, for example, celebrations sacramental ordination of bishops, attending meetings) that contradict communion with the Pope, who appointed them shepherds, and that create sometimes agonizing difficulties within their church communities.
In keeping with the desire expressed by the Holy Father in the aforementioned Letter, the Commission renews the hope that, in a respectful and open dialogue between the Holy See and the Government authorities, current difficulties can be overcome thus arriving at a fruitful cooperation that will benefit the Catholic community and social cohesion. In this spirit, the participants join the constant prayer of all Catholics in China that those bishops and priests, who have long been deprived of freedom, may soon exercise their priestly and Episcopal ministry again in favour of the faithful, entrusted to their pastoral care.
In the meeting that took place at the end of the plenary,-His Holiness stressed the need to ensure, to those who are preparing for the priesthood and the consecrated life, a solid spiritual formation, focusing on friendship with Jesus: it will be a guarantee of success in their personal life and pastoral work. The Holy Father reaffirmed the important role of those involved in formation and noted that it is one of the priority tasks of Bishops. Finally, he thanked the participants for their commitment to the Catholic Church in China.