BEIJING (AFP) – China’s state-controlled Catholic church on Monday praised a letter from Pope Benedict XVI and voiced hope that the Vatican and Beijing would soon be able to establish formal relations.
"The pope, through his papal letter has expressed his love and concern for China’s believers…. This is different from earlier papal letters," Liu Bainian, deputy head of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, told AFP.
"Earlier papal letters were opposed to communism and the socialist system. They wanted to (punish) members of China’s patriotic church. Now the situation is not the same. The pope wants to better understand China’s Church."
Beijing, Jul 2, 2007 (CNA).- Several Catholic websites that are housed in mainland China were forced by the government to remove the Pope’s letter to the Catholics in China from their website, reports UCA News.
As of today, some sites still have the full 19,763 Chinese character text, but these are mostly all run by Catholics that are “underground.”
At 6:00 p.m. Beijing time on the day that the letter was issued, several mainland Catholic websites had already been forced to substitute a simplified version of the letter for the full length one they had published only hours earlier.
A priest in charge of such a website registered with the government told UCA News on July 2 he felt helpless because he strongly believes that "China church websites should publish the pope’s letter."
The priest, who asked not to be named, said some government officials came to his office on June 29 and asked about the letter but did not explicitly say he could not carry it. The next evening, he uploaded the letter to his site, but was told on July 1 morning he was not allowed to upload the text.
Other popular Catholic websites in China were warned to remove or not upload the letter. Some sites even informed their readers on June 29 that the long-awaited papal letter would be released the next evening, and urged their readers to watch for it and related reports. But since then, the same sites have only carried Vatican news since the government has refused to let the letter or any news about it be published.
Well I guess this is one way to help ensure this letter will be read by many Catholics in China. Banning it should certainly help to get the unabridged version out.
"The pope wants to better understand China’s Church." Well actually it is the Church in China and not the other way around. But of course that is exactly the problem with the so-called patriotic churches in the first place. Though members of these Churches who are in union with the Pope and Church teaching refer to them as "Open" vice "Patriotic." There is always a problem when Catholics associate their churches so close with the country. Here in the U.S. so many dissident Catholic magazines and websites use the name of the country in their title or at specifically in their url. The ironic connection is that what the "Patriotic" churches are not allowed to teach is very close to what dissident Catholic sites would like to see happen to the whole Church. Union with Rome, contraception, abortion, are topics not allowed in the government allowed churches, sounds like a utopia for dissidents.
It is interesting as Sandro Magister has noted that "There are about 12-15 million Catholics living throughout China, 4 million of whom are members of the Patriotic Church."