The Pope and the secret Christians in China

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Pope Benedict XVI has expressed a desire to visit China, in the wake of the appointment of chinese Cardinal Zen, one of 15 new members of the College of Cardinals.

Many issues remain obstacles, and a Papal visit will not likely happen soon. The Washington Times notes:

The pope's wish to visit China was also voiced during an interview Saturday with Vatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, who said the "time is ripe" for the Holy See and Beijing to resume formal ties broken off in 1951.

The Vatican has expressed a willingness to meet Beijing's precondition of breaking ties with Taiwan. Beijing has not reciprocated, however, on Rome's key request, that the pope be allowed to appoint Chinese bishops.

The Chinese regime does not allow any independent group to exist, on the theory that it could emerge as a rival for the Communist Party. There is an offical state—controlled Catholic Church in China, but millions of Chinese worship as secret Christians in home—based congregations. The persecution of Falun Gong exemplifies the hostility and fear of the regime toward independent religions.

Hard numbers are nonexistent, but friends involved in support of the underground churches report that Catholicism and Christianity in general are enjoying strong growth in China. Certainly, the loss of communist orthodoxy and the eviscreration of Buddhist and Taoist institutions has left a spiritual vacuum.

Given the role of John Paul the Great in bringing down European communism, the Chinese regime may be hesitant to allow a Papal visit. But even they are not immune to greater forces connected to man's relation to the spirit.

Hat tip: China Challenges

Thomas Lifson   3 28 06

Pope Benedict XVI has expressed a desire to visit China, in the wake of the appointment of chinese Cardinal Zen, one of 15 new members of the College of Cardinals.

Many issues remain obstacles, and a Papal visit will not likely happen soon. The Washington Times notes:

The pope's wish to visit China was also voiced during an interview Saturday with Vatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, who said the "time is ripe" for the Holy See and Beijing to resume formal ties broken off in 1951.

The Vatican has expressed a willingness to meet Beijing's precondition of breaking ties with Taiwan. Beijing has not reciprocated, however, on Rome's key request, that the pope be allowed to appoint Chinese bishops.

The Chinese regime does not allow any independent group to exist, on the theory that it could emerge as a rival for the Communist Party. There is an offical state—controlled Catholic Church in China, but millions of Chinese worship as secret Christians in home—based congregations. The persecution of Falun Gong exemplifies the hostility and fear of the regime toward independent religions.

Hard numbers are nonexistent, but friends involved in support of the underground churches report that Catholicism and Christianity in general are enjoying strong growth in China. Certainly, the loss of communist orthodoxy and the eviscreration of Buddhist and Taoist institutions has left a spiritual vacuum.

Given the role of John Paul the Great in bringing down European communism, the Chinese regime may be hesitant to allow a Papal visit. But even they are not immune to greater forces connected to man's relation to the spirit.

Hat tip: China Challenges

Thomas Lifson   3 28 06