.- In a remarkable gesture toward cooperation and improved relations, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries invited Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C., for a visit in the Chinese capital.
During his nearly weeklong stay, the cardinal met Wednesday with Fu Tieshan, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, and Friday with China’s top adviser Jia Qinglin.
During the cardinal’s meeting with Fu, the two men exchanged views on improving relations between the churches of the two countries, reported Xinhua.
Fu is also chairman of the Catholic Patriotic Association of China and acting chairman of the Chinese bishops conference.
Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told the cardinal that China is ready to promote cooperation and to increase dialogue with the United States to advance China-U.S. relations, reported Xinhua.
The news agency also reported Jia saying that China-U.S. exchanges in matters of religion have strengthened mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples and churches.
He also expressed condolences to the people in hurricane-stricken areas in the U.S.
Cardinal McCarrick, in turn, reportedly spoke highly of China's economic growth and social progress, noting that the people’s living standards have been remarkably improved as a result. He also congratulated China for launching its manned spacecraft, Shenzhou-6.
The meeting with the cardinal follows on the heels of a meeting in New York last month between Chinese President Hu Jintao and President George W. Bush. The two leaders had agreed to jointly promote the China-U.S. relations in the new century.