.- This morning, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his desire to welcome more bishops from mainland China to the Vatican soon. His prayer for the visits occured during a meeting with bishops from the Chinese dioceses of Hong Kong and Macao on their “ad limina” visit.
These two particular Churches, said the Holy Father, are "called to be witnesses to Christ, to look forward in hope and to announce the Gospel facing up to the new challenges that the people of Hong Kong and Macao must embrace."
One of the most pressing needs for the Church in the two dioceses is “adequate ongoing formation of the clergy," the Holy Father said. This will help to address the “rapid changes in the social and cultural conditions” of society and also aid the “'new evangelization' which constitutes the essential and pressing task of the Church.”
The Pope then turned to Catholic education and its contribution to Chinese society. "Catholic schools offer an important contribution to the intellectual, spiritual and moral formation of the new generations. This crucial aspect of personal growth is what motivates Catholic parents, and those from other religious traditions, to seek out Catholic schools."
"The Catholic schools of your two dioceses have given significant impulse to the social development and cultural growth of your people. Today these educational centers face new difficulties; be assured that I am with you, and I encourage you to ensure that this important service will never fall by the wayside," said Benedict XVI.
The Holy Father thanked the bishops "for the affection and devotion you have shown to the Holy See in different ways. As I congratulate you on the many achievements of your well-organized diocesan communities, I encourage you to even greater commitment in the search for adequate means of presenting the Christian message of love in a more comprehensible way to the world in which you live," he said.
"I also encourage your dioceses to continue your contribution to the life of the Church in mainland China, both by offering personnel for formation purposes and by supporting initiatives in the field of human promotion and assistance". Also mentioned by the Pope for their “invaluable service" were the diocesan offices of the charitable organization Caritas.
As he bid the bishops farewell, Pope Benedict said, "I hope and pray to the Lord that the day will soon come when your brother bishops from mainland China come to Rome on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as a sign of communion with the Successor of Peter and the Universal Church."