Chinese Bishop Hopes Diplomatic Ties Will Be Mended

Sends Message to a Synod He Couldn’t Attend

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2005 ( One of the Chinese prelates barred by their country from attending the Synod of Bishop wrote a message to the assembly expressing hope that Vatican-Beijing relations will soon be re-established.

On Tuesday, Cardinal Angelo Sodano read the message to the members of the synod. The brief message in Latin was written by Bishop Luke Li Jingfeng of Fengxiang on behalf of the four prelates.

It is expected that the content of the message will soon by published, as well as the expected reply of the synod and of Benedict XVI, who had invited the bishops to Rome.

The message, received Oct. 6, thanks the Pope for his invitation.

Monsignor Giorgio Costantino, the Italian-language spokesman at the Synod of Bishops, explained that «in addition to regret for the impossibility to take part in the works, the letter expressed the hope that relations, including diplomatic, will soon be re-established between the Holy See and China.»

In China, the government allows religious practice only with approved personnel and in places registered with the Religious Affairs Office and under the control of the Patriotic Association.

Hence there is an «official» community and an «underground» community within the Church. Three of the four bishops were officially recognized by the government.

The names of the other prelates invited Archbishop Anthony Li Duan of Xian, and Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai, both recognized by the government, and «underground» Bishop Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar.

Last week, Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong told the synod that the Pope has legitimized the vast majority of bishops of China’s «official» Church.

«The Church in China, apparently divided in two — one official recognized by the government, and one underground which rejects independence from Rome — is, in reality, only one Church, as all want to be united to the Pope,» he said.

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