Chinese bishop hopes relations improve between Vatican, Beijing

.- A Chinese bishop prevented by his government from attending the Synod of Bishops in Rome this month hopes diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Beijing could be re-established.

His message of greeting to the synod was read aloud Tuesday in the synod hall by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state.

In the short message, which was written in Latin, the bishop said he was sorry he couldn't attend the meeting and expressed hope that the Vatican and China could re-establish diplomatic relations, said synod spokesman Fr. John Bartunek.

Pope Benedict XVI invited four Chinese bishops to attend the synod, but none was allowed by the Chinese government to come.

China forced its Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, shortly after the officially atheist Communist Party took power. There exists an official, government-recognized church, which controls the churches and appoints its own bishops. The Pope is recognized only as a spiritual leader.

Millions of Chinese, however, are said to belong to an unofficial "underground" church that is loyal to Rome.

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