Pope urges Chinese Catholics to unite after the bishops deal with China

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/26 20:58:40

Pope Francis said he has confidence in Chinese Catholics' faith and called on the Catholic community in China to unite in the wake of the signing of the landmark deal on the appointment of bishops between China and the Vatican.

In his first public comments on the provisional deal signed on Saturday, the Pope told reporters on Tuesday that while he realizes not everyone will understand the logic behind the agreement, he was confident in the "great faith" of Chinese Catholics, Reuters reported.

"I too am convinced that an encounter can be authentic and fruitful only if it occurs through the practice of dialogue, which involves coming to know one another, to respect one another and to 'walk together' for the sake of building a common future of sublime harmony," the Pope said in a statement released by the Vatican on Wednesday.

The remarks send a good signal that the Pope is confident and determined that the deal is the right choice, despite facing all the pressures that come before and after the signing of the deal, Francesco Sisci, a senior researcher at the Center of European Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"Pope Francis believes that the trust that has been built in those long years will be the foundation on which China and the Holy See can build up for the good of everybody in the world," Sisci said.

Not only is the Pope positive but the church in China as well, Sisci noted. People from China's "underground Catholic community" trust that the Chinese government wants a proper solution to problems between China and the Holy See that soured their relations, he said.

The deal has shown Chinese government's respect for the religion, and on the complexity of China's Catholic affairs in different diocese, more patience is needed in future negotiations, Wang Meixiu, an expert on Catholic studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

After the deal, China and the Holy See will have no further conflicts on the appointment and ordination of bishops, and all Chinese Catholics, who worship in either registered or unregistered churches, will accept the deal and work toward reconciliation, Wang said.

"The Catholic community in China is called to be united, so as to overcome the divisions of the past that have caused, and continue to cause, great suffering in the hearts of many pastors and faithful," the Pope said in the Wednesday statement.

"Catholic communities outside China also need to understand that the government regards managing religious affairs as part of its responsibility for social governance, and demands that citizens be patriotic when being faithful to religions," Wang noted.

Improving China-Vatican relations need efforts from both sides, and the deal is part of the Chinese government's efforts to support the country's Catholics to better preserve their beliefs, said experts.


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