Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

The Pope and China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on December 25, 2010

The Pope has a beef with China. Whether you are Catholic or not, China’s refusal to allow the Catholic, or any church for that matter, to operate in this place is one of the most stark examples of the lack of basic hm. ri.ghts they have. Can anyone explain the reason for blocking this right?

“VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI urged loyal Catholics in China to have courage in the face of communist limits on religious freedom and conscience, a Christmas Day message highlighting the tensions between Beijing and the Vatican. In Bethlehem, the largest number of pilgrims in a decade gathered to celebrate Christmas, with tens of thousands flocking to the Church of the Nativity for prayers. Bombings in Nigeria and the Philippines left 11 dead and 11 injured, however, and fear in Iraq also marred the Christmas festivities.

Benedict used his traditional holiday speech, delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to tourists and pilgrims in the rain-soaked square, to encourage people living in the world’s troublespots to take hope from the “comforting message” of Christmas. Those areas range from strife-torn Afghanistan to the volatile Korean peninsula to the Holy Land where Jesus was born — and even to China.

In recent weeks, tensions have flared anew between the Vatican and Beijing over the Chinese government’s defiance of the pope’s authority to name bishops and its insistence that prelates loyal to Rome attend a gathering against their will to promote China’s state-backed church.

“May the birth of the savior strengthen the spirit of faith, patience and courage of the faithful of the church in mainland China, that they may not lose heart through the limitations imposed on their freedom of religion and conscience but, persevering in fidelity to Christ and his church, may keep alive the flame of hope,” Benedict prayed aloud.

Chinese church officials did not immediately comment late Saturday. On Friday, one said the Vatican bears responsibility for restoring dialogue after it criticized leadership changes in China’s government-backed church.

The pope also expressed hope that Christmas might inspire respect for human rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan and “advance reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.”

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