02/27/2013, 00.00
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Chinese Catholics bid farewell to Benedict XVI and pray for "unity" with the future Pope

Many Catholics from China at Benedict XVI’s last audience, a bastion of religious freedom and a source of union with the universal Church. A nun originally from Beijing thanks him for his 2007 pastoral letter. The value of the Year of Faith in China, an invitation to witness "through our life and work."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Unity with the universal Church, full respect for religious freedom and the hope - one day - of celebrating an official visit of a Pope to China. In this spirit, the faithful of the Land of the Dragon attended the Benedict XVI last general audience in St. Peter's Square, with hearts filled with a "deep gratitude" for a pontiff who has "done a lot" to bring the Holy See and Beijing closer. In a crowded square, the Chinese delegation made up of dozens of people wanted, with their presence, to bid a final farewell in a sign of sincere thanks to Pope Benedict.

"For us, the Holy Father Benedict XVI is truly a great person" says Sister Mary Tiao, of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a native of Beijing. "The Holy Father - explains the religious - really loves the Chinese Church. He specifically showed his appreciation by sending a pastoral letter to all Chinese Catholics ... This is also why we very much love the Pope." Sister Maria adds that the letter "is a constant source of love," it comes from the "leader of the Universal Church and shows us the path to follow in the evangelization of the faithful throughout the world, including to China."

Looking towards St. Peter's Basilica, the nun explains that "religious freedom, which the Pope spoke about so often, is one of the most important elements for the Catholics in the world and, especially, for the Chinese." And for the future of the Church she invites all to "trust in the Holy Spirit: we have faith and really hope that the next Pope will come to China. We pray for him and we pray that this wish might come true."

Her words are echoed by Sister Lucia, originally from Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, according to who "the Pope has left a great treasure for the world, with his strength and his testimony". Benedict XVI's resignation of the papacy of, adds the nun, "touched me deeply," especially in this Year of Faith, which invites us constantly to conversion. "The Year of Faith is particularly important for China - said Sister Lucia - because many dioceses have proposed catechesis to spread the message of the Pope, his testimony and example." Finally, an appeal: "We must pray for religious freedom and the unity of the Church, overcoming divisions. And all Chinese believers are called to witness this with their lives and their work." (DS)


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