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Dear Holy Father:
As you know, we clergy and faithful in China for a long time have cherished a special affections for you. We love you and offer special intentions for you in our daily Mass and prayer.
However, on the evening of February 11, shocking and sad news came to us. Due to advanced age and physical weakness, Your Holiness said you decided to resign at the end of this month.
Although many of us have had an opportunity to personally visit you, and you have had no chance to visit the land of China in the Far East either, your resignation made us think of the affectionate love Your Holiness has shown to the Chinese people and Chinese Catholics.
“In this world, all Christians have been suffering for Jesus Christ, but on the Catholics in China at the same time suffer for Your Holiness — Our Pope — the Bishop of Rome!” This is a quotation from a former Apostolic Delegate to China while introducing the Church in China to you, months after you were elected pope.
Then, Your Holiness seemed to enter a long, deep silence.
However, we know that Your Holiness has paid special attention to China and saved a special place for the Catholic Church in China in your heart. You tried to promote dialogue and alleviate the cross we bear by showing concern and by blessing China and the Chinese people. During the eight years of your pontificate, you were always concerned about the Chinese clergy and faithful, and you were full of profound sentiments of friendship toward the Chinese people.
We will not forget that, in the annual Spring Festival, you not only greeted the people of all nations who celebrate the Lunar New Year, but you also conferred special blessings on our hundreds of millions of Chinese compatriots.
We will never forget that, when the torch relay of the 28th Beijing Olympic Games was encountering a series of strong opposition, you offered China and the Chinese people who were preparing for those games the best wishes generously and justly.
We will not forget that when severe snow storms hit southern China when the earthquake shook Wenchuan, Sichuan in 2008, and when the earthquake happened in Yushu, Qinghai, and mudslides and flooding ravaged Zhouqu, Gansu, in 2010, Your Holiness not only grieved and lamented the death of our compatriots but also appealed to the universal Church to pray for the victims, the various government personnel and those kind-hearted people who participated in the rescue work in the front line of disaster areas. you also called on other countries to stretch out their hands of friendship to support the disaster areas in china and prayed that the Lord would help China and the Chinese people go through these difficult times. In addition, Your Holiness generously donated to the Chinese victims four times through Jinde Charities via Cor Unum.
We also will not forget your blessings and congratulations for the publication of Missals in simplified Chinese.
Nor will we forget that Your Holiness expressed heartfelt congratulations publicly to our new national leaders and gave abundant blessings to the Chinese people in your recent Christmas message this past December 25.
We will not forget the long, historic letter that you wrote to the Chinese clergy and faithful, and the prayer you wrote for China soon after you took your pontifical office.
We will never forget that, in the past eight years, there were only best wishes, friendly greetings and high hopes expressed in the messages you sent to China. No matter what conflicts and harm occurred, no matter how sad and disappointed we made you feel, you always embraced China and the Catholic Church in China with fatherly love, and respected and showed compassion and care for China’s people and Catholics. We will always fondly remember this in our hearts.
In the past eight years, when facing complex and uncertain international situations, Your Holiness made every effort to safeguard human dignity, pursue truth, defend the values of faith, and actively promote the new evangelization.
On February 28, Your Holiness will leave the chair of St. Peter peacefully. The free and unconfined attitude you showed in front of power, honor and status, and your strong, persevering, humane response to various challenges, have won the respect of all the world. This not only moved the world, but also makes it difficult for us Chinese clergy and Catholics to say farewell to you.
Please forgive our weaknesses and limitations. We hope that Your Holiness will continue to care for the little flock in China and stay connected to the Chinese people in prayer in your retired life in the future.
We will also pray for you and your successor!
Thank you, dear Holy Father! We Chinese clergy and faithful will never forget you. We will love you forever!
Representatives of Chinese Clergy and Faithful