Aide: No Contradiction in Being Catholic and Chinese

Father Lombardi Comments on Vatican Message

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 2011 ( There is no reason that good Chinese citizens cannot be very good Catholics as well, according to a Vatican spokesman reflecting on this week’s message to the Church in China.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, offered this comment in a Vatican Radio statement regarding the fourth plenary assembly of the Vatican’s commission on China. The group met last Monday through Wednesday and addressed an 11-point message to Chinese faithful.

The Vatican spokesman said that «there is no doubt that recent months have been particularly difficult for Chinese Catholics.»

He noted an episcopal ordination held without papal approval as well as the so-called 8th Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives, both of which happened at the end of last year. These events triggered a firm response from the Holy See in defense of religious liberty, and the Church’s right to live according to her nature and mission. 

All of this has «caused a situation of tension and disorientation in the ecclesial community,» Father Lombardi said. And in such a context, the commission’s message is «a point of reference in a situation of crisis.»

The Jesuit noted that the statement describes fundamental tenets «with clarity and lucidity in light of Catholic doctrine.»


The meeting message also confirms that from the Catholic perspective, the organizations imposed by the state to guide the Church are unacceptable. The statement further admits a fear that more bishops will be ordained without a papal mandate.

At the same time, Father Lombardi pointed out, «the message reflects a sincere closeness,» mindful of the «difficulties and suffering» and offers «genuine encouragement, rooted in the spiritual experience of the ecclesial community, nourished by assiduous prayer.»

From this «realistic but not discouraging» perspective, the spokesman continued, «the conviction that to obtain the solution of some problems of the Church in China — for example, the appointment of bishops or the reorganization of ecclesiastical circumscriptions — ‘sincere and respectful’ dialogue with civil authorities would be valuable.»

In the Holy See’s view, «this would contribute in a decisive way to that ‘harmony in society’ that everyone desires for the common good, beginning with Catholics,» he said. «The Holy See’s availability for this dialogue is confirmed once again, with the hope of finding the same availability on the other side.»

Saintly example

Father Lombardi also proposed that the commission’s message contains two elements that should not go unnoticed.

«First of all,» he said, «the Pope stresses very much the value of prayer to support the unity and vitality of the Church in China and to manifest the solidarity of the universal Catholic community.»

In addition, the message notes the beginning of a beatification cause in the Diocese of Shanghai for Paul Xu Guangqi, a layman and imperial official of great culture, who was a disciple of Father Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), the Italian Jesuit missionary who introduced Christianity in modern China.

«On seeing the exemplary life of Xu Guangqi, the Chinese — Catholics and non-Catholics — will be able to understand better that there is no contradiction whatsoever or any risk in the fact of being Chinese and Catholic,» Father Lombardi reflected. «What is more, it is possible to be great Chinese and very good Catholics.»

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