.- The Vatican has announced that during the month of April, Pope Benedict XVI will focus his prayer specifically on the plight of the much-persecuted Church in China.
The text of the Holy Father’s April mission intention, released today, is "That the Church in China may carry out its evangelizing mission serenely and in full freedom."
The Vatican is currently exploring ways to better serve Catholics in China, where the communist government has established a government-sponsored Church which discourages--sometimes violently--the faithful from giving primary adherence to the Holy Father.
A large underground Church, faithful to the Pope, exists as well, but experts say its religious liberties are being trampled by a closely-watching government.
China’s newly elevated Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun has encouraged Catholics in the country to “be patient” as they wait for religious freedom. The Vatican has expressed an openness to listening to the Chinese government in hopes of compromise but China has insisted that it will not work with the Holy See unless they break ties with China.
The Church has consistently rejected that idea.
Pope Benedict has said that he is open to a trip to China in the near future, but said that he’s leaving the timing up to God.