Ad orientem (in another sense)

Something is up with the Holy See and East Asia. Some are taking notice.

There is story in the Wall Street Journal today (my emphasis).

Vietnam and the Vatican
January 26, 2007

The Vatican has been home to many miracles, but yesterday’s was especially striking. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung became the first Communist head of state to visit the Holy See. Diplomatic relations may soon follow. Vietnam’s Catholics and the Church would celebrate such a reconciliation. So would China’s Catholics, to whom such a move might lend hope.

So, too, with religious freedom. Crackdowns on Protestants, while still far too common, are starting to ease. Vietnam’s six million Catholics can celebrate Mass, attend religious classes, and do community service without harassment. In an informal arrangement, the Holy See nominates bishops, and the government almost always approves them. The Vatican also maintains a regular dialogue with Hanoi.

We hope Beijing is watching. After a brief period of reconciliation last year, China’s official church reverted to unofficial ordinations and severe crackdowns, saying it didn’t want the Vatican interfering in its "internal affairs." China’s Catholics know that "internal affairs" are those of the soul, not the state. How wonderful — dare we say, miraculous — that Hanoi is moving in that direction.

Sandro Magister put this forth also (my emphasis):

Mission Asia: The Laboratory is South Korea
After the summit on China, the audience with the prime minister of Vietnam: Benedict XVI sees in the Far East the future terrain of the Church’s expansion.

ROMA, January 26, 2007 – For the second time in a few days, Benedict XVI has called everyone’s attention back to the present and future of Christians in East Asia.

On Thursday, January 25 he received (see photo) the Vietnamese prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, the first top official of the regime of Ho Chi Minh City ever to visit the Vatican. Vietnam is one of the Asian countries with the highest percentage of Catholics, preceded only by the Philippines. And the Church is especially lively there, in spite of the absence of religious freedom.

A few days earlier, on January 19-20, Benedict XVI had convened a meeting in the Vatican on the Catholic Church in China. …

There are thought to be more than 12 million Catholics in China today. In 1949, before the advent of Mao Zedong, there were 3 million. Every year about 150,000 new baptized persons are added to their ranks, most of them adults. Many of these come from the professional classes and from the universities.

Another country of the Far East in which the Catholic Church is especially vigorous is South Korea. The faithful there have almost doubled in number over the past ten years, and now make up 10 percent of the population.

John Paul II had already indicated Asia to the Church as "our common task for the third millennium." And Benedict XVI is showing that he is very determined to continue along this road.

Today Asia is the continent with the lowest number of Catholics. But with the emergence of great nations like India and China, it will be the axis of the world in the future.

[…] South Korea is a laboratory of great importance for the present and future of the Catholic Church in Asia.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. RBrown says:

    Wasn’t Gorby head of a communist state when he visited JPII?

  2. Pes says:

    What is the Mass like, over there?

  3. RBrown: Good point! I remember watching his motorcade drive up the V. della Conciliazione and into the Vatican through the square.

  4. RBrown says:

    We stood on the little knoll next to Piazza Venezia watching Gorby* and Schevernadze get out of their limos.

    *As a prof said: Orbi et Gorbi!

  5. I found the L\\\’Osservatore Romano story in the English weekly edition, 4 December 1989.

  6. CT says:

    Deo Gratias!

  7. John Giglio says:

    Pes asked what the Mass was like over there: I heard that the Mass is in Latin in China, at least the underground Mass. Anyone know for sure? On another point, I attended Mass in NY where there was two Vietnamese priests, who sang the whole Mass every day! Maybe it was there accent, but it sure was beautiful!
    Dcn John in sunny Florida.

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