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Pope gets praise from China and is compared with Xi Jinping

BEIJING (AsiaNews): In response to the appeal for peace in Syria and the Middle East, two officials in the Chinese government were quoted by AsiaNews on September 3 as saying his words are “wise and true, and we Chinese are with him.”

The two officials from a department which deals with culture and religion wish to remain anonymous, but praised the pope, even comparing his simplicity and wisdom with that of their own president, Xi Jinping.

“We do not want to see conflicts in the Middle East any longer. We are opposed to any attack by the United States of America against the government in Damascus. As the pontiff said, ‘War begets war, violence begets violence.’ Pope Francis, thank you for these words,” they continued.

Pope Francis made his appeal for peace prior to his midday angelus address on September 1.

“The Chinese government is not familiar with the new pope, but appreciates many things about him, from his simplicity to the speeches he has made to the Christian world,” they added.

“You could even compare Francis and the new Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has brought some good changes to the country. Even Xi is simple and friendly, he wants the common good of his people, just like the pope,” they said.

“The Chinese people have seen Francis on television and Internet. It is clear to everyone that he is a really great pontiff, a good father, although we are still trying to get to know him better,” they continued.

The two said that it is their heartfelt hope that the pope may be able to contribute to an improvement in relations between China and the universal Church, and Beijing and the Vatican may be able to draw closer in the future.

“We love this pope, even if until now has not spoken openly of the Chinese situation,” they said.

They agreed that the great economic and social development of China needs to be supplemented by an improvement in relations with religious bodies, especially the Catholic Church, the Muslims of Xinjiang and the Buddhists in Tibet, all of which have been complicated by politics up until now.

“We know that the Church does not seek to or bring division and war, but peace and serenity,” they added.

They admitted that they do not know much about the new Vatican secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, except for his work in promoting ties between the Vatican and Vietnam.


However, they said that they do not think that Beijing wants to follow down the same line as Hanoi.

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