Sunday, 21 January 2007

Vatican tribute to faithful Chinese Catholics

Vatican, Jan. 20, 2007 ( - At the conclusion of a special 2-day meeting on the Church in China, the Vatican announced on January 20 that Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) plans to write a letter to the Catholics of that country.

Pope Benedict did not attend the meeting held in the apostolic palace on January 19- 20, but he was kept informed about the discussion. The meeting was chaired by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (bio - news), the Vatican Secretary of State; other participants included prelates from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macao as well as Vatican officials involved in China policy.

In a statement released by the Vatican press office at the conclusion of the meeting, the participants paid tribute to the many Chinese Catholics who have uncompromisingly maintained their loyalty to the Holy See, “sometimes at the cost of severe suffering.” They also noted that, despite pressure from the government and the Catholic Patriotic Association, nearly all of the Chinese bishops are now in communion with Rome. Moreover the Church continues to grow rapidly in China, the statement noted.

The January 20 statement downplays the tensions between Rome and Beijing that had prompted the Vatican to convene the special meeting. The closing statement refers only to the need for “constructive dialogue” with the Chinese government to overcome “the misunderstandings of the past.”

The Vatican statement indicated that Pope Benedict would write to the Catholics of China, but did not offer further information about the Pope's plans, nor a date when that message could be expected.