Pope calls for freedom to preach Catholic faith in China

Vatican City, May 24 (EFE).- Pope Francis on Wednesday said he expressed his “closeness” to Chinese Catholics and asked that his faith be preach “in its fullness, beauty and freedom,” in a message at the end of the general audience held in Saint Peter’s Square.

Francis said Wednesday marks the World Day of Prayer for the Catholic Church in China and sent a message of “closeness to our brothers and sisters in China, sharing their joys and hopes.”

And he also sent a special message “to all who suffer, pastors and faithful, so that in the communion and solidarity of the universal Church they may experience consolation and encouragement.”

In addition, he invited everyone to raise their prayers “so that the good news of the risen and crucified Christ may be proclaimed in its fullness, beauty and freedom, bearing fruit for the good of the Catholic Church and of all Chinese society.”

It comes after Beijing’s unilateral decision to elect a new bishop in Shanghai, China’s largest diocese, which would violate the bilateral pact whereby bishops are jointly appointed, an agreement reached in 2018 and extended in 2020 and 2022.

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said the Vatican learned of this appointment through the media.

For decades, the appointment of bishops has been a bone of contention between both sides, as formal diplomatic ties broke down after the communist regime seized power some seven decades ago.

The agreement was an attempt to ease the division in China between state-recognized Catholics and so-called underground churches loyal to the pope. EFE


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