Pope Makes Plea to China’s Catholics
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Published: July 1, 2007
The New York Times
ROME, June 30 — In an extraordinary open letter directed to Chinese Catholics and released Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the suffering experienced by Catholics under Communist rule but also concluded that it was time to forgive past wrongdoings and for the underground and state-sponsored Catholic churches in China to reconcile.
Openly hoping for a renewal of relations between China and the Vatican, which were suspended in the late 1950s, Pope Benedict reassured the Chinese government that the Vatican offered no political challenge to its authority, while urging the state-sponsored Catholic Church to acknowledge the Vatican’s control on religious matters.
“The misunderstanding and incomprehension weighs heavily, serving neither the Chinese authorities nor the Catholic Church in China,” the letter said.
It was the pope’s long-awaited first official and explicit statement on China’s estimated 12 million Catholics, the majority of whom worship in underground churches to avoid having to register with the government and swear loyalty to it.
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