09/16/2022, 11.07
VATICAN-CHINA-BAHREIN
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Pope: 'Patience and dialogue with China'

On the flight back from Kazakhstan the pontiff answered a question about the trial of Card. Zen that will begin on 19 September: "It is a complex country: it is better to dialogue than to qualify". Meanwhile, Reuters, citing a Vatican source, reports that the Holy See had asked for a meeting with Xi Jinping in Kazakhstan, which the Chinese leader declined. The bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: 'I have lost all the battles, but I am happy'. Pope's trip to Bahrain in November.

Milan (AsiaNews) - "I do not feel I can qualify China as undemocratic, because it is such a complex country... It is true that there are things that seem undemocratic to us. Cardinal Zen is going to trial these days. And he says what he feels, and you can see that there are limitations there. But more than qualifying, I try to support the path of dialogue'.

On the return flight from his trip to Kazakhstan, during the customary press conference with journalists, this was Pope Francis' response to a question about the trial of Cardinal Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, which will open on Monday 19 September.

"It takes a century to understand China," the pontiff had premised, "and we do not live for a century. The Chinese mentality is a rich mentality and when it gets a little sick, it loses its wealth, it is capable of making mistakes. To understand eachother, we have chosen the path of dialogue, we are open to dialogue. There is a bilateral Vatican-Chinese commission that is going well, slowly, because the Chinese pace is slow'. The Pope also added that 'the governors of the provinces are all different, there are different cultures within China. But we must not lose patience and move forward with dialogue'.

As for the simultaneous presence in Kazakhstan of President Xi Jinping, Francis merely replied that 'he (Xi Jinping ed.) had a state visit there, but I did not see him'.  Reuters news agency, however, quoted an anonymous Vatican source as saying that the Holy See had let China know that the Pope was willing to meet with Xi Jinping while both leaders were in the Kazakh capital: But China reportedly replied that there was not enough time. The source - Reuters adds - did not give details of how or when the Vatican expressed this willingness to China.

The trial of Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and five well-known Hong Kong Democratic Front members will open on Monday, 19 September at the West Kowloon Court. They will be charged with failing to properly register the 612 Fund - set up to provide health and legal assistance to pro-democracy protesters - of which they were trustees. On the other hand, the far more serious charge of 'collusion' with foreign forces - in violation of the draconian national security law imposed by Beijing in the summer of 2020 - was the basis for Card. Zen's arrest and subsequent release on bail hours later on 11 May.

"I have lost all the battles, but I am happy," the cardinal told Fr Gianni Criveller, a PIME missionary who met him in Hong Kong, a few weeks ago. "He told me naturally," Fr Criveller wrote in an article published on mondoemissione.it, "about his arrest and court hearings, but above all about the good he does by visiting prisons. He meets people who live stories of inner transformation far from the spotlight, but no less extraordinary for that. Some of the imprisoned leaders live their stories in a spirit of faith and witness, willing to pay a high price for values they strongly believe in. Some even approach faith'.

Returning to Pope Francis' press conference on the flight back from Kazakhstan, it was also an opportunity to talk about possible future trips. The pontiff replied that because of the pain in his knee "it is difficult, but I will do the next one".

The VaticanNews agency specified that the reference was to a planned trip to Bahrain next November, which had not yet been officially announced.

Francis added that he had spoken with Anglican Primate Justin Welby about the possibility of a joint trip to South Sudan in February. "And if I go to South Sudan," the pontiff added, "I will also go to the Democratic Republic of Congo" (the other country where Francis was due to travel to in July on the trip to Africa that was cancelled due to his health condition, ed.)

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