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German president visits Xi’an

HONG KONG (UCAN): Bishop Anthony Dang Mingyan believes that a visit from the German president, Joachim Gauck, to the cathedral in Xi’an on Holy Thursday (March 24) should help the development of the charitable outreach of the Church in his diocese.

Bishop Dang said he introduced the German president to the diocese’s charity works and described the general situation of Shaanxi province during his 50-minute visit.

Xi’an, which has an estimated Catholic population of 40,000, was the last leg of Gauck’s first state visit to China, which ran from March 21 to 25.

“I summarised several aspects, such as social facilities, education, hygiene services and care for elderly people,” Bishop Dang said.

“Gauck appreciated our achievements on these social services,” the bishop said, as well as inviting him to visit Germany.

Although the pair did not discuss cooperation on charitable initiatives between the two countries, Bishop Dang said that as a result of Gauck’s visit, he hopes his diocese will be able to develop a relationship with Misereor, the development organisation of Germany’s bishops’ conference.

“The president’s visit is of great significance in promoting the Church’s charitable work in China,” Father Stephen Chen Ruixue commented.

“If we can get more money, we’d like to train more social workers,” Father Chen, the director of the Xi’an Diocesan Social Service Centre, said.

“It is normal for leaders from countries with a Christian background to show their concern for the Church,” Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, the retired bishop of Hong Kong, commented.

The cardinal believes that the speech Gauck made in China may also help some people to reflect too.

On March 23 the German spoke with students at Tongji University in Shanghai and was critical of Communist rule in East Germany and praised human rights as being a constructive element in the building of a healthy society.

Gauck said that under the Communist rule most people were neither happy nor liberated.


“And the entire system lacked proper legitimacy. Free, equal and secret public elections were not held. The result was a lack of credibility, which went hand in hand with a culture of distrust between the rulers and those they ruled,” the German president pointed out.

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