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    » 06/27/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN - HONG KONG - MACAO

    Pope: I pray that the bishops of China may come to Rome



    With the bishops of Hong Kong and Macao, on their ad limina visit, the pope commended evangelisation, priestly formation, Catholic schools, and the activity of Caritas. All open toward mainland China.

    Vatican City - (AsiaNews) - A hope and a prayer: that the bishops "from mainland China come to Rome on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as a sign of communion with the Successor of Peter and the Universal Church".  This is the only reference to the situation of the Chinese Church that Benedict XVI included in his address today to the bishops of Hong Kong and Macao, received on the occasion of their five-year visit "ad Limina Apostolorum".  He made various references, instead, to the action of the Churches of Hong Kong and Macao toward the Church on the mainland, especially regarding the activity of Caritas and priestly formation.

    The primacy that the proclamation of the Gospel must always have in the Church's activity was the point of departure for the pope's reflection, following a greeting brought from Cardinal Zen: "All of the Church’s activities", the pope said, "are oriented towards evangelization and may not be separated from the commitment to assist everyone to encounter Christ in faith, which is the primary aim of evangelization: 'Social issues and the Gospel are inseparable. When we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little' (Benedict XVI, homily during the outdoor Mass at Neue Messe, Munich [September 10, 2006]: AAS 98 [2006], 710)".

    "The Church’s mission", he added, "is taking place today in the context of globalization". This prompts, on the one hand, "the many social and cultural bonds which tend to promote attitudes of world-wide solidarity and shared responsibility for the good of mankind. On the other hand, there are worrying signs of fragmentation and individualism dominated by secularism which pushes the transcendent and the sense of the sacred to the margins and eclipses the very source of harmony and unity of the universe. The negative aspects of this cultural phenomenon draw attention to the need for a solid formation and call for concentrated efforts aimed at supporting the spiritual and moral ethos of your people".  This means dedicating particular attention to the formation of priests, and "to young priests confronted with new pastoral challenges arising from the task of evangelizing a society as complex as today's".  The need for careful formation led Benedict XVI to emphasise the importance of Catholic schools.  These make "an important contribution to the intellectual, spiritual and moral formation of the new generations".  After calling upon those who work in schools to be "witnesses of Christ, epiphany of the love of God in the world", and to posses "the courage of witnessing and the patience of dialogue", serving "human dignity, the harmony of creation, the existence of peoples and peace", the pope - with an implicit reference to the new legislative provisions in regard to the management of educational institutions - expressed his sympathy for the "new difficulties" that these educational centres find themselves facing.  A few years ago, the government of Hong Kong passed a law for the oversight of Catholic schools that creates obstacles to freedom in instruction.

    "I also encourage your Dioceses", the pope continued, "to continue your contribution to the life of the Church in mainland China, both by offering personnel for formation purposes and by supporting initiatives in the field of human promotion and assistance.  In this regard I cannot but recognize the invaluable service which the charitable organization Caritas of both Dioceses has offered to the needy with such generosity and professionalism. We must never forget however that Christ is also for China a Teacher, Pastor and loving Redeemer. The Church must never allow this good news to remain unspoken. I hope and pray to the Lord that the day will soon come when your Brother Bishops from mainland China come to Rome on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as a sign of communion with the Successor of Peter and the Universal Church. I willingly avail myself of the occasion", he concluded, "to send to the Catholic community of China and to all the people of that vast country the assurance of my prayers and my affection".

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    See also

    01/07/2007 HONG KONG – CHINA – VATICAN
    Cardinal Zen: “Pope’s letter to the Chinese Church represents love for truth and his children”
    The bishop of Hong Kong, Card Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, hopes that Benedict XVI’s letter to China’s clergy and faithful may be the starting point for a direct dialogue between the local Church and the Beijing government. He stresses the letter’s religious rather than its political tone.

    30/04/2009 HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
    Bishop John Tong of Hong Kong, "man of dialogue," but with "non-negotiable principles"
    A wide-ranging interview with the successor to the combative Cardinal Zen. The progress and prospects of the Church's efforts in the territory, and toward the sister Church in China, in a give-and-take relationship. Openness and dialogue with the Chinese government, but remembering the Chinese bishops in prison, and asking for complete religious liberty. Memories of childhood and of his conversion. The work of the Holy Spirit Study Centre.

    03/01/2009 VATICAN - CHINA - HONG KONG
    Cardinal Zen asks Chinese bishops for more courage
    The bishop of Hong Kong condemns as "outdated" the celebrations of 50 years of "self-election" and "self-ordination" of Chinese bishops as promoted by the United Front, the Patriotic Association, and the Office of Religious Affairs. He is asking the bishops to follow the example of Saint Stephen, and not to offend the pope by participating in meetings sponsored by the regime to appoint the new presidents of the PA and the council of Chinese bishops, two bodies not recognized by the Holy See.

    12/08/2008 HONG KONG - CHINA
    Hong Kong bishop Tong in Beijing for Games, without meeting city's bishop
    A visit to the bishop of Beijing was judged as "inconvenient". Beijing must work harder to improve the life of the population, including from the spiritual point of view, beyond the moment of the Olympics.

    02/04/2009 VATICAN - CHINA
    Vatican's "sadness" over arrest of Bishop Jia Zhiguo. The Church and formation
    The statement on the work completed by the Vatican Commission for the Church in China has been published. For the first time in years, names and details of persecution have been provided. The problems related to the formation of priests, seminarians, and religious personnel in China have been addressed, in order to help them be "disciples of Christ" and "exemplary citizens." An impulse toward mission.



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