Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Pope's letter to Catholics in China is out!

The letter is here and an explanatory letter here (jump to the English). Obviously, it's not your average pen-pal letter, weighing in at 28 pages according to my count. Zadok has some of the more interesting excerpts (and even just the excerpts make for a long post). The one I've thus far found most interesting:

Given this difficult situation, not a few members of the Catholic community are asking whether recognition from the civil authorities – necessary in order to function publicly – somehow compromises communion with the universal Church. I am fully aware that this problem causes painful disquiet in the hearts of Pastors and faithful. In this regard I maintain, in the first place, that the requisite and courageous safeguarding of the deposit of faith and of sacramental and hierarchical communion is not of itself opposed to dialogue with the authorities concerning those aspects of the life of the ecclesial community that fall within the civil sphere. There would not be any particular difficulties with acceptance of the recognition granted by civil authorities on condition that this does not entail the denial of unrenounceable principles of faith and of ecclesiastical communion. In not a few particular instances, however, indeed almost always, in the process of recognition the intervention of certain bodies obliges the people involved to adopt attitudes, make gestures and undertake commitments that are contrary to the dictates of their conscience as Catholics. I understand, therefore, how in such varied conditions and circumstances it is difficult to determine the correct choice to be made. For this reason the Holy See, after restating the principles, leaves the decision to the individual Bishop who, having consulted his presbyterate, is better able to know the local situation, to weigh the concrete possibilities of choice and to evaluate the possible consequences within the diocesan community. It could be that the final decision does not obtain the consensus of all the priests and faithful. I express the hope, however, that it will be accepted, albeit with suffering, and that the unity of the diocesan community with its own Pastor will be maintained.
The highlighting is Zadok's, but I'd have made it anyway. The Pope here has once again displayed his ability to write subtly but forcefully and authoritatively. I'm going to have to print this out and read it - my eyes just won't take reading this much on a screen unfortunately. I'm now awaiting the Chinese authorities' response to the letter.