At Synod, Regrets Over Absence of 4 Chinese

Letter Sent to Bishops Who Couldn’t Attend

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 23, 2005 ( At the close of the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, Benedict XVI called attention to four seats that remained conspicuously empty during the assembly.

In his homily during today’s Mass, the Pope mentioned the Chinese bishops that he invited to Rome, but were unable to attend.

The prelates invited to the three-week synod were Archbishop Anthony Li Duan of Xian, Bishops Louis Jin Luxian of Shanghai and Luke Li Jingfeng of Fengxiang — all recognized by the government — and «underground» Bishop Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar.

The Holy Father sent, «in the name of the entire episcopacy, … a fraternal greeting to the bishops of the Church in China. With deep sadness we felt the lack of their representatives.»

«I would like to assure all the Chinese priests that we are close with prayer to them and to their priests and faithful,» he said. «The suffering path of the communities, entrusted to their pastoral care, is present in our hearts: This will not remain fruitless, because it is a participation in the paschal mystery, to the glory of the Father.»

Although some of the Chinese bishops would have been unable to travel to Rome for reasons of health and age, the others met with bureaucratic difficulties to obtain the necessary permits to travel.


Bishop Jingfeng sent a letter in Latin to the synod, read in one of the general congregations by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, in which he thanked the Holy Father for the invitation, and expressed regret in the name of the other bishops, for the impossibility to attend, and hoped that diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China would soon be re-established.

The bishops responded to the letter Saturday, at the closing meeting of the synod.

«Your absence during the synodal work,» the bishops wrote, «caused great unhappiness in our soul. We would have liked to meet with you and listened to your voices, about your suffered and fruitful ecclesial experience.

«All this was not possible, but we would like to assure you and the whole Church that is in China that you are present in a particular way in our hearts and in our prayers.»

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

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