Pope invited to visit China

A friend sent this story from the AP:

Beijing bishop urges pope to visit China

Wed Aug 20, 4:27 PM ET

The Beijing bishop appointed by China‘s state-controlled Catholic Church said in an interview Wednesday that he hopes Pope Benedict XVI will visit his country and that relations with the Vatican are improving.

"We strongly hope that Benedict XVI will make a trip to China," Joseph Li Shan told Italy’s RAI state TV. "Relations with the Vatican are constantly improving. We can say that there are big developments."

Li is well-regarded by the Vatican and his installation last year was seen as a positive sign in the long-standing dispute between China and the Holy See over who should appoint bishops.

The officially atheist government dislikes groups that operate outside Communist Party control [no kidding] and has refused to yield authority over bishop’s appointments, while the Vatican is loath to concede its traditional right to appoint church leaders.

Both sides have searched for a compromise in recent years, with many bishops being first named by China but then later asking for and receiving the Vatican’s approval — as church officials said was the case with Li.

Strains with the Vatican date to 1952 when the Communists, just three years in power, demanded Chinese Catholics cut ties to Rome. Banned for much of the 1960s and ’70s when all religion was outlawed, the church has made a rapid recovery in the past 20 years, boasting about 12 million to 15 million followers.

Many of China’s Catholics however worship in congregations outside the state-approved church and often are arrested or harassed.

But in Wednesday’s interview, Li, whose comments were translated into Italian, said that "the problem of clandestine Catholics does not exist."

Benedict sent a special letter to Catholics in China last year, praising the underground church, but also urging the faithful to reconcile with followers of the official church.

The pope has made the improvement of relations with Beijing a priority of his papacy.

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  1. mao now says:

    The situation there is very complicated. The State controlled Church has begun to adopt some of the worst practices of the Post VII liturgical revolution. For years they exclusively used the pre 1962 books, now they are even employing altar girls. There is much going back and forth amongst the faithful, some will worship in the state Church, others in the underground (so called) Church. I for one blame the meddling of JPII for the current situation. ie the use of VII rites amongst the “official” Church. and the confusion sown by clandestine Priests who said Mass according to the 1970 Missal, for A rural poorly catechized peasantry. The situation is very very complicated. But I would hope the Holy Father visits. I dont see it happening though. Perhaps “I” should extend an invitation??? LOL :)

  2. Adam says:

    Yes it is great that the bishop has called for Benedict to visit Beijing and this statement
    could not have come without approval from the Ministry for Religious Affairs for sure.
    No bishop there who has the approval of the State and was granted such, would dare to
    say such a notable comment without approval from the party. It comes at an interesting
    juncture, close to the end of the Games which have gone off well, even with a couple
    of Brit-inspired demos that drew attention for about an hour, so focused were the media
    on the Games and not Tibet (for the time being).
    But the fact is, this pope of the next will NOT travel to China without an official
    invitation from the Chinese govt and that will only come AFTER diplomatic links with
    Taiwan have been cut and relations have been set up with Beijing. The Pope will NOT go there
    without an invite from the Bishops of China, approved by the State and only then. But the
    Vatican has to close the Taiwan nunciature and that could come at any time between now and
    whenever. The Vatican has to consider the good of the Taiwan Church especially, but in the last
    month Taiwan’s relations with Beijing have improved dramatically after the election of their
    new president. Direct flights are now on. So the scenario is better. But I think personally that the sooner relations are established, the better for the whole of China and the millions of Catholics there now who need the connection with Rome to be put on a formal basis.
    When and if this or the next pope goes to China, it is sure to be the media event of the
    decade, this one or the next. What a visit it will be. The Pope at the Great Wall, the Pope
    in the Forbidden City – the mind boggles. But what about at the Gate of Heavenly Peace?

  3. Tim H says:

    Very Good.

    In light of Scisi’s recent Asia Times article, I believe a great deal of work has been going on behind the scenes on both sides in recent months, and with the conclusion of the games, regularization of diplomatic ties with the Vatican will assume a higher priority on the agenda of the Foreign Ministry as it is one of the last remaining diplomatic items items in terms of geopolitical “Regularization”.
    Things might happen faster then many think.

  4. canon1753 says:

    The Pope going to Beijing before Moscow? Could be sad but true…..

    I suspect that the battles in Georgia and redrawing some of the East/West tensions put paid to any visit by the Pope to Moscow anytime in the next year or two.

  5. Louis E. says:

    The PRC government essentially demands two things of the Vatican before they’d set up normal relations…severing relations with the ROC,and abandoning hope of the only thing that would induce them to sever relations with the ROC (unimpeded appointment of mainland bishops).

    Best to let things stand as they are until the Communists lose power,no matter how long that takes.

  6. Deusdonat says:

    Mao, I had no idea the official church in China now said the Novus Ordo. Back in 1999 I was on a plane and met a very nice Maryknoll priest who was stationed in Hong Kong. But of course, he was as liberal as they came. I asked him about the official church in China, and he spoke about them at length. I asked him if they still said the Tridentine mass, and he said, “Oh, yes. They’ve even been contacted by the SSPX to join forces.” I scowled and said, “Really? What was their response?” He said, “Well, the official church isn’t as schismatic as a lot of people have been led to believe. They secretly send priests and nuns to Rome for study and ordination all the time. So, they’re not going to do anything to jeopardise their current relations with the Vatican.” I thought this was all extremely interesting. But if what you said is true, it would appear they are a bit off track at the moment : (

  7. mao now says:

    Deusdonat, Yes for the most part they do. I am sad to relate. And as your Priest friend pointed out, the “Official” Church is not nearly as schismatic as westerners are led to believe. I lay the root of the current liturgical mess that is evolving in China at the feet of JPII either him or others acting in his name, or with his direct involvement. Before the 80’s you had A Church of perhaps 10 million all worshipping according to the pre 1962 books. The heirarchy walked A fine line between the communist government, and the Vatican. There was no “Schismatic mentality” The Pope was prayed for by name in the canon. It was “schism by default” forced on them by the communists. Then clandestine Priests began fanning out into the countryside and cities saying Mass for people who hadnt seen A priest in decades. Then we began to hear of this “Underground” Church. What Missal did these Priests use? 1970! of course…who trained these Priests? …I leave that to the conspiracy theorists…( I am not one despite the tone of this post) LOL It was in an effort to please the Vatican that the heirarchy adopted the Novus Ordo, though the Tridentine can still be found. Now I ask myself, did this “underground ” Church really exist ??? or was it A way to “Novus ordoize” !10 million Catholics who for largely political reasons, were still worshipping in the Tridentine rite? I dont know, But I blame the meddling of JPII for this mess. Either him or misguided prelates in the Vatican. Go to Mass in Beijing, there is Altar girls…horrid vestments versus populum, in other words anytown USA
    God Bless

  8. Xiling says:

    I am glad to see the discussion of China, but it deserves to be fact-based. Unfortunately, Mao now, your history of the NO in China is WAY off. The first took place in September 1989, in Shanghai, and the celebrant was none other than Joseph Zen, the current Cardinal Archbishop of Hong Kong – appointed cardinal by none other than the current Holy Father. It was actually a very brave and daring act, and nearly five hundred years in the making. Beginning in the 15th century, Catholic missionaries – beginning with Matteo Ricci – had been petitioning Rome for permission to say mass in the vernacular (granted in the 16th century, though never implemented due to the Rites Controversy) because, they found, evangelization was too difficult in European languages. Implementation of the NO had as much to do with the vernacular as it did with “reform.” Despite the NO being standard in China’s registered churches, the mood remains quite traditional. Despite what you write, the only place you’ll find altar girls are the expat churches. No Chinese congregation would allow them. If you are interested in a history of the NO in China, and some photos of the first one, read here:


    It will change your outlook.

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