Pontiff Requests Formation for Chinese Catholics

Commission Deplores Arrest of Bishop Jia Zhiguo

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is stressing the importance of faith formation for Chinese Catholics so that they can give testimony in their country of the beauty and rationality of Christianity.

On Monday in the Vatican, the Pope received members of a commission that he established in 2007 to study the life of the Church in China.
A Vatican communiqué reported Thursday that the Holy Father highlighted the need «to help Catholics in China to make known to others the beauty and rationality of the Christian faith and to present it as the proposal that gives the best answer from the intellectual and existential point of view.»
The Pontiff thanked those present for their efforts in the area of formation, and encouraged them to continue their service for the good of the Church in China.
In this second plenary meeting, which began Monday and ended Thursday, the commission held discussions on the formation of seminarians and consecrated persons, and on the permanent formation of priests. The first meeting took place in March of 2008.
The commission concluded that «the principal leaders of ecclesial communities will attempt to promote, in union with the bishops of the Church in China, a more adequate human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation of the clergy and of consecrated persons, who have the important task of acting as faithful disciples of Christ and as members of the Church, as well as of contributing to the good of their country as exemplary citizens.»

Commission members, including representatives of the Roman Curia and of the Church in China, recalled the Pope’s words in a 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics: «The Church, missionary always and everywhere, is called to proclaim and witness the Gospel.
«The Church in China must feel in its heart the missionary zeal of its founder and teacher […]. Now it is up to you, Chinese disciples of the Lord, to be courageous apostles of the Kingdom of Christ. I am certain that your response will be great and generous.»
The communiqué reported that the participants in the meeting, «referring to their own experience, at times painful, highlighted the complex problems of the present situation of the Church in China, which stem not only from the internal difficulties of the Church but also from the less than easy relations with civil authorities.»
During the meeting, the commission received «with great sorrow the news of the new detention of Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of the diocese of Zhengding.»
They noted, however, that the arrest «is not, unfortunately, an isolated case: other ecclesiastics are deprived of their liberty or are the object of undue pressures and limitations in their pastoral activities; to all of them the participants wish to transmit their fraternal closeness and constant prayer, in this Lenten season illumined by the Paschal mystery.»
The statement continued, «Situations of this kind create obstacles to that constructive dialogue with the competent authorities which, as is known, the Holy Father in his above-mentioned letter expressed the hope might be pursued.»

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