Pope Hopes Church Can Operate With Freedom in China – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his spiritual closeness to Catholics in China and expressed hope that the church there would operate in “liberty and tranquility,” but made no mention of a 90-year-old cardinal recently arrested in Hong Kong .

Speaking to the public gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s traditional Sunday sermons, Francis pointed out that on May 24 the Church celebrates “Blessed Mother Mary, Help of Christians” and recalled that Mary is the patron saint of Catholics be in China.

“The happy circumstance offers me the opportunity to reassure them of my spiritual closeness,” said the Pope. He added: “I follow with attention and sympathy the lives and often complex affairs of believers and pastors, and I pray for them every day.”

Cardinal Joseph Zen was arrested May 11 along with at least three other people on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces to endanger China’s national security. He was released later that night.

Zen has been scathing in his criticism of China, and has blasted the Vatican’s 2018 agreement with China on appointing bishops in that country. He has described the deal, which is set to be renewed this year, as a sell-out of Christians worshiping in underground churches in China to avoid harassment by the communist regime authorities.

In his addresses, Francis invited the faithful in the square to join him in prayer, “so that the Church in China may live in freedom and tranquility in effective communion with the universal Church and carry out her mission of proclaiming the Gospel to all, and therefore one make a positive contribution to the spiritual and material progress of society.”

The Vatican-China deal aims to ease tensions over China’s insistence on influence over the appointment of bishops, which the Vatican says is the prerogative of popes.

The Vatican has claimed the deal prevents an even deeper schism in the Chinese Church after Beijing has appointed bishops without the Pope’s approval in the past. The deal settled the status of seven of these “illegitimate” bishops and brought them into full communion with the pope.

The Hong Kong arrests, including those of Zen, extended a blanket crackdown on all forms of dissent and further penetrated the city’s long-respected economic, religious and educational institutions.

The Vatican said it learned of Zen’s arrests with “concern” and was following “the situation with the utmost attention.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed.

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https://wsvn.com/news/us-world/pope-voices-hope-church-in-china-can-operate-in-freedom/ Pope Hopes Church Can Operate With Freedom in China – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

James Brien

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