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Some priests stay mum on meeting with pope

HONG KONG (UCAN): Some of the priests from China who met with Pope Francis in Rome on April 27 have been reluctant to discuss their experience since they returned home, fearing repercussions from the government.

“It is inconvenient for me to talk, given the situation in China,” one priest said.

Twenty-three parish priests, mostly from northern China, attended a two-week programme on Catholic social teaching at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. They then went on to Germany and Rome courtesy of the Ferdinand Verbiest Foundation (Sunday Examiner, May 8).

In Rome, the group had the opportunity to greet Pope Francis and take photos with him.

“I could not help my tears,” Father Paul said in recalling his experience. He described the pope as the personification of love.

“I completely melted in this love… so touched and excited that I could not think of any other thing at that brief encounter,” he said.

Father Joseph described Pope Francis as kind and lovely, saying that the pope smiled right through their audience.

He said he and some of the others spoke to the pope in Spanish and invited him to visit China. The pope answered, “Yes, yes, I would like to come.”

Father Wei Wei, from northwestern Ningxia region, described meeting the pope as significant and unforgettable. He was the only priest who used his full name in a report on the diocesan website.

“I gained a lot from the study programme, which makes me understand better the Church’s social doctrine,” he said.

Father Joseph said his first trip to Europe helped broaden his horizons in understanding a different culture.

However, in a reference to five priests from the unofficial community in Hebei were detained and jailed during April, some Catholics asked on social media why these priests could go abroad so easily.

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