On Monday the Vatican made public its continued efforts to promote reconciliation within the Chinese Catholic community as well as between the Church and the Chinese government.
In a letter written by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone to the clergy in China, the Vatican noted the celebration of the Year for Priests and addressed some of the issues that the Catholic Church in China is facing.
Recalling Pope Benedict's 2007 Letter to the Church in China, Cardinal Bertone referenced the “guidelines” that were indicated for the future of the Church in China, saying that “among those I wish to emphasize (are) reconciliation within the Catholic community and a respectful and constructive dialogue with the civil authorities, without renouncing the principles of the Catholic faith.”
The Catholic Church in China has faced many difficulties in recent years, including divisions within the Church caused in large part by persecution from the Chinese Communist government.
Cardinal Bertone encouraged the clergy in his letter and called for unity, saying that, “In this Year of the Priesthood, I wish to remind you of the source where you can find the strength to be faithful to your important mission ... the Eucharist. ... A truly Eucharistic community cannot retreat into itself, as though it were self-sufficient, but must stay in communion with every other Catholic community.”
The Secretary of State continued to emphasize the need for Chinese clergy to “seek reconciliation with concrete gestures” and to find the “various practical ways in which you can make your valuable contribution.” Citing some examples, the cardinal told the priests that efforts such as visiting families, training good catechists, fostering charities, organizing special gatherings and distributing literature were among some of the ways that the Chinese clergy could promote unity.
Cardinal Bertone summed up his advice and assessment by saying, “despite the persisting difficulties, the information that has come from different parts of China points to signs of hope.”