Pope to China Catholics: Make gestures showing communion

Source: Associated Press

By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis urged Chinese Catholics on Wednesday to show they are in full communion with the Holy See, amid what appears to be another stall in the Vatican’s longstanding attempts to reach a deal with Beijing over bishop nominations.

Francis made the comments during his general audience, noting that many Chinese Catholics will be marking a feast day dedicated to the Virgin Mary this week in Sheshan, near Shanghai.

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Francis prayed that all Chinese faithful “can live their faith with generosity and serenity, and can make gestures of fraternity, harmony and reconciliation in full communion” with the pope.

China’s estimated 12 million Catholics are split between those belonging to the government-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and an underground church loyal to the pope. These underground priests and parishioners are frequently detained and harassed.

Francis — and before him Pope Benedict XVI — have tried to unite the two communities, and in recent months Vatican officials had expressed hope that a deal to resolve the key stumbling block to reconciliation was nearing completion.

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