VATICAN CITY, MARCH 25, 2010 ( A Vatican commission established by Benedict XVI is affirming its prayer that bishops and priests imprisoned in China will be released and allowed to exercise their ministry.

This was one of the affirmations from a three-day meeting held by the commission the Pope established in 2007 to study the complexities of the Church in China. The meeting concluded Wednesday.

One of the emphases proposed by the group was the issue of formation. Benedict XVI also took up this topic when he met with the participants at the end of their discussions.

"The difficulties that emerge in the field of formation and new pastoral requirements -- connected with the task of evangelizing Chinese society which is so dynamic and complex -- represent considerable challenges," the final communiqué affirmed.

The Holy Father "underlined the need of ensuring solid formation, based on friendship with Christ, for everyone preparing for the priesthood or consecrated life."

He said this would serve as a guarantee of success, personally and pastorally.

The commission also emphasized the path of unity within the Catholic Church in China.

"Progress made in response to the Pope's call for authentic ecclesial communion was noted with satisfaction, a communion which is not expressed without a personal commitment to searching for truth and spiritual reconciliation," the communiqué noted. "[...] The importance of taking tangible steps toward increasing and expressing spiritual ties between pastors and faithful was also emphasized.

"At the same time, the participants expressed the unanimous hope that all bishops in China may become increasingly committed to favoring the growth of unity, faith and life among all Catholics, avoiding gestures -- such as, for example, sacramental celebrations, episcopal ordinations and participation in meetings -- that run counter to communion with the Pope who appointed them pastors, and create difficulties -- sometimes severe difficulties -- in the bosom of their respective ecclesial communities."

Commission participants also reiterated hopes for bettering relations between the Church and the government, and in this light, assured their prayers for the release of bishops and priests held as political prisoners.