Pope Francis urges reconciliation in message to Church in China

10/31/2018 10:07:27 PM
November 2018


Pope Francis in his message to the Chinese Catholics has encouraged them to work towards reconciliation and communion with one another following a deal between the Vatican and China on the appointment of bishops.


The Pope offers a few of his reflections on the just-signed agreement as well as "spiritual pastoral" input for the new phase about to be embarked upon.


The provisional agreement between the Church and China is as much about the "spiritual calling" of the Church in that country as it is about promoting respect for human values in and outside of China.


Now Chinese Catholics can begin the process of restoring full communion, healing the wounds of the past, and proclaiming the Gospel, the Pope said.


The Pope's message to Chinese Catholics came just a few days after the signing in Beijing of a provisional agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China on how to appoint Catholic bishops.


At the same time, the Vatican announced the Pope's decision to recognize seven illicitly ordained Chinese bishops, who had been appointed by the government without papal mandate.


This means for the first time all the bishops of China are in communion with Rome, after years of division between the "underground" Catholic Church in China and the government-backed Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.


in his letter, Pope Francis emphasized that though the Church in the country had to go clandestine out of concern for preserving the Catholic community from the control of the State, this "is not a normal part of the life of the Church."


He said he decided, "before the Lord and with serenity of judgment, in continuity with the direction set by my immediate predecessors," to grant reconciliation to the seven illicit Chinese bishops and to lift canonical sanctions against them, readmitting them to full communion with the Church. This is the language of love and dialogue that prevails over the language of conflict.


The deal follows years of discussion, he said, and on his own part, a thorough examination of individual situations and of listening to different points of view: "I have devoted much time to reflection and prayer, seeking the true good of the Church in China."


So, to support the continuation of the Gospel in China, and to re-establish "full and visible unity" in the Church, the Pope wrote that it was "essential" to first deal with the issue of the appointment of bishops.


No Christian can be excluded from the task of offering gestures of reconciliation and communion and of working to build a society which respects the dignity of every person, the Pope said.


Pope Francis concluded his message by invoking the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, praying that she would "present to the Lord of history the trials and tribulations, the petitions and the hopes" of all who pray to her; and that she would be a refuge for all who "weep amid their trials."


"Mary, Help of Christians, for China we implore days of blessing and of peace."

By Hannah Brockhaus


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