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4/17/2011 China (AsiaNews) – Firm and merciful, demanding freedom and open to dialogue with Beijing, the message to Chinese Catholics released today by the Vatican Commission for the Church in China teeters on the brink of this difficult synthesis. The April 11 to 13 meeting came after the two humiliations suffered by Benedict XVI and the Holy See with the illicit ordination of Chengde and the National Assembly of Catholic Representatives: both actions contrary to the instructions of the pope, and in the presence of bishops in communion with the Pope who, willingly or forced, were present at both events.

The message centers on these two facts and points out that the mandate of the pope is necessary for episcopal ordinations in the name of faith and should not be seen as undue meddling “in internal affairs of a state.” The message reminds China of this fact, which similarly to Stalin is always fearful of Vatican  “divisions”, and contemporarily those Chinese bishops, who while in formal communion with the pope, are fascinated by the “patriotism” and “independence” of a so-called “conciliar” Church.

The document is clear in recalling the canonical sanctions (excommunication) linked to acts of disobedience, and demands that every bishop justify himself and explain how and why these events occurred to the Holy See and the faithful, shocked by the affront to the dictates of the pope.

But the Message – and the pope – does not excommunicate anyone. This is because the Commission is concerned above all about the unity of the Church in China, a Church that three years after the Pope’s Letter (2007) which called for reconciliation, is more divided than ever.

Hence the exhortation to “love, to forgive, and to be faithful,” to “safeguard unity and ecclesial communion even at the cost of great sacrifice.” Even the Pope, who was present at the Commission’s last session stressed that “the faith of the Church, laid out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to be defended even at the cost of sacrifices, is the foundation on which the Catholic communities in China have to grow in unity and communion. “

The text reiterates its condemnation of organisms which intruding into the life of the Church try to shape it according to “the principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church” incompatible with Catholic doctrine. The quotation, taken from the Pope’s letter to Chinese Catholics (No. 7) was intended to refer to the Assembly of Catholic representatives, which places itself above the authority of bishops, and the Patriotic Association, which controls the lives of bishops and official community.

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