The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone gave a press conference yesterday afternoon while at the Knights of Columbus 125th convention, speaking on a wide range of topics. The Cardinal began by mentioning the success of his first visit to the United States, and then moved on to talk about the Church in China, and the intersection of faith and politics.
First US Visit
Cardinal Bertone spoke openly about how the Church he has seen in Nashville is “very positive, very alive and active.” He pointed to a visit that he paid to the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia Wednesday morning and his experience of the Knights of Columbus as examples.
When he traveled to the sisters’ new motherhouse he was very impressed with their intelligence, beauty, and youth. He said that they are a beautiful expression of the American Church and, “make sure you write, that their average age is 33.”
The Knights of Columbus are also a sign of the vitality of the Church in the States, according to the prelate. “They are Catholic and they are with the Church.”
Church in China
CNA asked Cardinal Bertone about the situation of the Church in China and the recent “invitation” for a papal visit, to which he responded, “the situation of the Church in China was presented in a very good way in the letter that the Holy Father wrote to the Chinese.”
The letter was well discussed at all levels in China, not only amongst the Church but also among the secular officials. The Pope’s letter is the best way to address the situation in China, according to the Cardinal.
In reference to the alleged invitation for the Pope to visit China, Bertone said, “the invitation was done by one official and only one who is not a representative of the government.” Currently, the Secretary of State says that “the question of a visit has been suspended and we are awaiting a response from the government.”
Faith and Politics
The issue of denying Communion to politicians who hold pro-abortion views or other views contrary to Church teaching was also discussed. Bertone said that, “it is not necessary to issue new norms regarding the reception of communion because the present ones clearly represent the doctrine of the Church.”
The Cardinal pointed to how, “there seems to be this idea that a political party, whether an American or Italian party, can impose an ethical choice on one of its members. I’m speaking here about the question of abortion, homosexual marriage, and embryonic research…all the while, they emphasize the freedom of conscience.” “This is a contradiction and a violation of the freedom of conscience here [in the US] and elsewhere.”