Chinese Catholics More United Than Ever, Cardinal Says

MADRID, Spain, FEB. 14, 2002 ( The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace says that Chinese Catholics, both in the state-approved church and the Rome-recognized Church, are more united than ever.

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At a press conference held in the apostolic nunciature here, Cardinal François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân said that Catholics who form part of the state-controlled Patriotic Catholic Association in China pray every day for the Pope in their episcopal sees and in the seminaries.

According to Cardinal Van Thuân, the problem for the Catholic Church is that «religions are considered as an opposition to the existing regime in the People´s China.»

About 11 million Catholics live in China, more than half of them in the underground Church loyal to Rome.

Meanwhile, the cardinal expressed his concern over the crisis in vocations and indifference evident in Western Europe. Yet, he said he perceives the action of the Holy Spirit in that situation, who is inspiring new ecclesial movements, in which the Pope sees the future of the Church.

Van Thuân, who as a bishop spent 13 years in detention under the Communists in Vietnam, said that the situation in his country has improved over the past decade. He acknowledged that the government continues to impose limitations on students entering the seminaries. Yet, there are some 700 seminarians in the country, he said.

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