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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Time to heal, restore unity, evangelise, pope tells Catholics in China

The recent Vatican-China agreement on the nomination of bishops seeks the true good of the Church, the promotion of preaching the Gospel in China and the re-establishment of the Church’s full and visible unity, Pope Francis said in a message to Catholics in China and worldwide.

With the help and prayers of all Catholics, the pope said he hopes the provisional agreement announced on 22nd September will begin an ‘unprecedented process that we hope will help to heal the wounds of the past, restore full communion among all Chinese Catholics, and lead to a phase of greater fraternal cooperation in order to renew our commitment to the mission of proclaiming the Gospel’.

‘The Church exists for the sake of bearing witness to Jesus Christ and to the forgiving and saving love of the Father,” not for political or personal aims,’ he wrote.

The pope’s comments came in a special papal message addressed ‘to the Catholics of China and to the universal Church,’ released by the Vatican on 26th September.

Acknowledging the ‘conflicting reports’ circulating about the future of Catholic communities in China as well as the wide variety of reactions, such as ‘confusion’, doubt or hope, the pope used the message to assure the faithful in China of his daily prayers and sincere admiration ‘for the gift of your fidelity, your constancy amid trials and your firm trust in God’s providence, even when certain situations proved particularly adverse and difficult’.

He asked people to look ‘to the example of all those faithful laity and pastors who readily offered their ‘good witness’ to the Gospel, even to the sacrifice of their own lives. They showed themselves true friends of God!’

Picture: A Catholic priest celebrates Sunday Mass in Beijing in this 4th December 2016 file photo. In a special message addressed ‘to the Catholics of China and to the universal Church’, released by the Vatican on 26th September, Pope Francis said he hoped a recent Sin-Vatican agreement would help ‘restore full communion among all Chinese Catholics’. (CNS photo/How Hwee Young, EPA).