Vatican cautiously optimistic about future of Church in China, says analyst

.- Despite positive signs from the Church in communist China, the Holy See remains cautiously optimistic about the future of Vatican-Beijing relations, says Vatican analyst Sandro Magister. In his latest column for L’Espresso, Magister points to positive signs such as the presence of Chinese young people at World Youth Day, and especially “the growing rapprochement between the two Catholic communities of China: the underground Church, with 8 million faithful, and the Patriotic community, with 4 million.”

According to Magister, the rapprochement between both Catholic communities “alarmed many authorities in Beijing” but “the reconciliation between clandestine and patriotic believers has continued moving forward.”  Magister explains the importance of recent episcopal ordinations in China which received both government and Vatican approval, and which have finally unified under one pastor several communities that had been divided since Mao Tse-Tung created the Patriotic church.

Magister states that the “China issue is certainly one of the most burning questions of Benedict XVI’s pontificate.  And the authorities of the Holy See are preparing to confront it with extreme caution.”

The silence from official Vatican offices on the China issue is a sign of this prudence.  According to Magister, it contrasts with the exaggerated optimism of some Catholic organizations who think the solution to the tensions is just around the corner.

In his column, Magister includes the sharp analysis of Father Gianni Criveller, collaborator of the Holy Spirit Study Center in Hong Kong, one of the best think tanks in the world on Christianity in China.  Father Criveller’s article fiercely criticizes positions that are overly optimistic about the future of Christianity in China, especially the book Jesus in Beijing, by the American author David Aikman. 

Magister’s complete column can be found at: www.chiesa.espressonline.it/index.jsp?eng=y

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