Pope Francis expressed this Sunday his closeness to Catholics in China and his hope that the Church there can operate with “freedom and tranquility”, but not to mention the case of a 90-year-old cardinal who was arrested in Hong Kong.
In his words before the people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, the pontiff stressed that May 24 is the day of “the Blessed Mother Mary, Protector of Christians” and noted that Mary is the patron saint of Catholics in China.
“This joyful circumstance offers me the opportunity to renew my expression of spiritual closeness with them.Francis said.
“I follow with attention and participation the life and the sometimes complex affairs of the faithful and the pastors, and I pray for them every day”, he added.
the retired cardinal joseph zen, one of the highest-ranking Catholic clerics in Asia, was arrested in Hong Kong on May 11, along with three pro-democracy activists on suspicion of “conspiring with foreign forces” to undermine China’s national security. He was released that same night.
Zen has been a strong critic of China and has criticized the agreement between the Vatican and China in 2018 on the appointment of bishops in the Asian country. He considers that pact, which should be resumed this year, as a betrayal of Catholics who practice their faith clandestinely in China so as not to be harassed by the communist regime.
In his speech, the Pope invited those present to pray with him “so that the Church in China, in freedom and tranquility, can live in effective communion with the Universal Church and fulfill its mission of announcing the Gospel to all, and thus offer a positive contribution to the material and spiritual progress of the society”.
The Vatican and China renewed in October 2020 for another two years the agreement signed in 2018, which will remain provisional, on the appointment of bishops in the great Asian country and which was considered a step forward in establishing relations between the two States. since they were discontinued in 1951.
The agreement, which is totally secret, is only known, because Francis revealed it, that the pope is involved in the appointment of bishops and authorizes them, which until two years ago was not allowed. However, in these years very few bishops have been appointed under this premise.
(With information from AP, AFP, EFE)
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