From Asia News Italy:
With the ‘Letter to Chinese Catholics’ published today, Benedict XVI launches the Church and society in China into the third millennium. Putting together “truth and love” the Pope accurately identifies the problems Christians and the Chinese state have to face and moves towards a solution that guarantees a fruitful future for China and the world.
Only the head of the Catholic Church could have written this kind of letter, touching every aspect of the Church’s life in China and its society, with sympathy and understanding even for its political leaders, but also with great clarity about what is necessary and indispensable for the Church, claiming independence in spiritual matters vis-à-vis the system, asking Chinese bishops, priests and faithful to preserve and pass on to the next generations the great treasure which the Catholic faith.
Thoughtfully and in cordial participation, Benedict XVI shares the cries and dismay of Christians “at God’s silence in the face of the persecutions,” praising the fidelity of so many “witnesses of the faith, “ “the hope of the Church for the future!” At the same time he looks mercifully even upon those bishops and priests who are illegitimate and in ambiguous situations, urging everyone to live in open unity with the pontiff, to forgive one another, to pastorally work together for mission and the good of Chinese society.
In a loving and open attitude he demands in the name of the Catholic faith the right for the Holy See to appoint its bishops. He calls on underground bishops to seek official government recognition and on official bishops to overcome their fear and publicly acknowlede their ties with the Pope so that bishops and the faithful alike can become reconciled. He especially urges the Chinese Church as a whole to go beyond the defensive mode persecution imposed on it, and try instead evangelising Chinese society, Asia and the whole world by giving itself the necessary means—bishops’ conference, pastoral councils and diocesan administrations—that the task entails. This will mark as it were the end of the time of emergency, and allow the Church of China to become an integral and active part of the universal communion.