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Synod says Chinese bishop was there in spirit


VATICAN (SE): The Synod of Bishops has assured its lone voice from China that his spiritual presence was felt at the gathering despite his physical absence.

Bishop Lucas Li Jingfeng, from Fengxiang, wrote a letter that was read out to the synod, in which he presented the Church in China as a model of fidelity and devotion despite 50 years of persecution, contrasting it with the tepidness of Catholic people in Europe and in the west, UCA News reported.

The world’s bishops told Bishop Li, “Even if you and other Catholic bishops in China could not attend, we considered you as spiritually present.”

Their message adds, “We know that the suffering, the prayers and joy of being a Christian in China are appreciated by God and encourage all the Christians in the world.”

The bishop of Hong Kong, John Cardinal Tong Hon, told the Vatican Insider on October 28 that watching the faces of the bishops in the conference hall, he could see that they were interested in listening to Bishop Li’s words and appreciated his intervention, even though it had to be by letter.

He told journalists on October 18 that the Chinese government should be as open for religion as it is open for business.

The cardinal added that he hopes that Beijing will understand that relaxing its controls on religion would bring it a greater reputation in the world.

“I think it is a pity that no Chinese bishop was allowed out to attend the synod,” he commented. “We must all pray that one day they will enjoy full religious freedom.”

He explained, “More dialogue between the Holy See and the Chinese government is needed.”

In past synods, including the Special Assembly for Asia in 1998, legitimate bishops from mainland China had been invited by the Vatican, but not allowed to attend by government authorities.

Some were told that they could only go if accompanied by an illicitly ordained bishop, which was an unacceptable condition.


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