Pope Francis sends greeting to Chinese president en route to South Korean trip
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/14/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
On his way to South Korea, Pope Francis bid China a friendly greeting. "Upon entering Chinese air space, I extend best wishes to your Excellency and your fellow citizens, and I invoke the divine blessings of peace and well-being upon the nation," the Pope said in a message radioed to Xi, which is a Vatican custom during a papal over-flight.
The Pope's South Korean visit marked the first ever papal flight across China.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The greeting to President Xi Jinping is being seen by some as the Catholic Church's outreach to the Asian giant. China is keeping the papal visit at arms-length as Francis begins the first papal visit to Asia in nearly 15 years. There was talk about a possible visit to Beijing which was later abandoned.
The occasion marked the first ever papal flight across China. It arrives at a time during the most severe Chinese crackdown on Christianity in years. Chinese authorities have reportedly issued a countrywide ban on Catholic pilgrimages to South Korea during the pope's five-day visit.
Chinese authorities have destroyed or ordered the removal of crosses at 231 churches this year in Zhejiang, a wealthy southeastern province with a large Christian population.
In addition, Chinese authorities have destroyed or ordered the removal of crosses at 231 churches this year in Zhejiang, a wealthy southeastern province with a large Christian population.
The Chinese government allowed the Pope's passage over Inner Mongolia and past Beijing before skirting North Korea and landing in Seoul. Of the 10 countries the pope's plane crossed en route to Seoul, only messages to nominally Communist China and Mongolia failed to mention "God."
Relations between the Vatican and Beijing have been strained. Both sides continue to disagree over ordinations. Chinese authorities have detained apostolic administrator Father Peng Weizhao in a hostel in southeastern Jiangxi province since May.
Relations between the Vatican and Beijing have been strained. Both sides continue to disagree over ordinations.
Despite this, the Vatican has publicly remained upbeat about relations with China. Representatives from both sides reportedly met in June, and the Pope earlier this year played up written correspondences between himself and Xi during an interview with the Italian press.
"There are relations," he said. "The Chinese are a great people whom I care about."
Cardinal Pietro Parolin recently told the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana that the Vatican hopes for "a respectful and constructive dialogue" in a bid to improve shrinking religious freedoms in China.
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