“East” of South Bend
For all the pitfalls of the internet, it can also be a helpful way of realizing the catholicity of the Church. Asia News is an indispensable point of reference. Here is its account of a meeting concerning the Church in China that ended yesterday in Rome:
“Profound sadness” over the latest arrest of Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, and for the situation of other bishops and priests who are “deprived of their freedom” has been expressed by the Vatican Commission for the Church in China, which gathered from March 30 to April 1, and yesterday afternoon held a session together with Benedict XVI. The arrest of Bishop Jia (cf. Police arrest underground Zhengding bishop Jia Zhiguo), took place just as the Commission’s work was beginning.
The final statement, published today by the Vatican press office, recalls that this lack of freedom is not “an isolated case,” and cites “other ecclesiastics,” such as many official bishops and priests, “who are subjected to undue pressure and limitations on their pastoral activities.” Many prelates recognized by the government, but who have reconciled with Rome, continue to be subjected to “forced vacations,” far from their faithful, and to political sessions that last for months, in order to convince them of the goodness of the Party’s religious policies, and to subject themselves to the policies of the Patriotic Association.
The members of the Commission desire in the first place to express to them their “assurances of their fraternal closeness and constant prayer, in this season of Lent, illuminated by the Paschal Mystery.” The statement frankly expresses that these situations of “uneasy relations with the civil authorities” “create obstacles to that climate of dialogue with the competent authorities” which the pope – in his letter to Chinese Catholics – said he hoped to have.
As we approach Holy Week, we might keep in special prayer our fellow Christians in both China and India who by their witness often share the sufferings of Christ.