Cardinal Bertone Writes Church in China

Offers Reflections for Year for Priests

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 17, 2009 ( Catholic faithful in China are reflecting on the essential elements of the Year for Priests with the help of a reflection written by Benedict XVI’s secretary of state.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sent a letter Nov. 10 to Chinese priests and bishops on the occasion of the Year for Priests. It was released by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on Monday.

The cardinal draws from two papal messages — the letter convoking the Year for Priests and the 2007 letter to the Church in China — to help his readers reflect on themes such as the centrality of the Word of God and the importance of Eucharistic life.

He begins his letter with «an invitation to hope.»

The cardinal recalled how the Holy Father’s 2007 letter gives guidelines for «reconciliation within the Catholic community and a respectful and constructive dialogue with the civil authorities, without renouncing the principles of the Catholic faith. «

Cardinal Bertone affirmed that in this regard, «the information that has come from different parts of China points also to signs of hope.»

The secretary of state goes on to note how the Church in China has had abundant vocations for the last 50 years.

But, he said, citing the Holy Father’s letter, «this flowering is accompanied, today, by not a few difficulties. The need therefore emerges both for more careful vocational discernment on the part of Church leaders, and for more in-depth education and instruction of aspirants to the priesthood and religious life.»

Cardinal Bertone continues to cite Benedict XVI’s exhortation to «take steps to ensure, on the one hand, particular attention in the care of vocations and, on the other hand, a more solid formation with regard to the human, spiritual, philosophical-theological and pastoral aspects, to be carried out in seminaries and religious institutes.'»


The cardinal also reflects on the problem of «enduring divisions and miseries also present within the Catholic community.»

«If we are united in the Eucharistic Christ, all of the miseries of the world echo in our hearts to implore the mercy of God,» he reflected. «In the same way, we raise up a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for all the beautiful things of creation, for the good works of men and for the countless gifts of grace which the Lord pours out on humanity.»

The cardinal noted St. Paul’s observation that from the start of the Church, divisions have existed.  «Everything forms part of God’s plan, so that all may serve his omnipotence, which is wisdom and infinite love,» he affirmed. «At this time may no one hesitate to seek reconciliation with concrete gestures, to extend the hand to the brother who ‘has something against you.'»

In this context, Cardinal Bertone encouraged the faithful in China to pay attention to «human formation,» asserting that «the lack of human maturity, self-control and inner harmony is the most frequent source of misunderstandings, lack of cooperation and conflicts within Catholic communities.»

The 11-point letter concluded with the cardinal entrusting to Our Lady «the wish that your priestly life may be guided more and more by those ideals of the total giving of oneself to Christ and to the Church which inspired the thought and action of the saintly Curé of Ars.»

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