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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Chinese to become 8th Vatican website language (+ a sneaky tip)

    From the Vatican Information Service bulletin:
    "... for the occasion of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church, the official website of the Holy See will be enhanced by the addition of a new section in Chinese".

    Chinese "will be the eighth language to be represented on the website, which also includes Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Latin.

    "Thanks to the new service", the communique concludes, "internet users from throughout the world will be able to navigate in Chinese to access the texts of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI which will be available in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters".
    Also, if you remember that picture I posted of the Vatican website "Obama-fied", you'll probably be interested in what the artist has decided to do - make it fully functional:

    "since the mock-up was so popular, I've created a full-blown version with active links, a Web feed, and a few other nice features. I'm planning to keep the blog and the other elements regularly updated -- so people can basically use this as their "substitute" Vatican site. The full, working version is here." - Shaun Gallagher

    Now don't get riled - I'm not suggesting a parallel Magisterium or anything! - just promoting a more accessible portal to find documents and information on the existing Vatican website. I think it could prove useful. Hey, it has an RSS feed.

    And sorry, there's no way to avoid the occasional mention of "Benedict XVII". Yeah - Benedict the 17th!

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    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Magister: "Bad News from China. A Rift Has Opened in Beijing"

    Bad news abroad:
    "Between obedience to the pope and to the communist party, some bishops are choosing the latter. The most stunning about-face has taken place in the capital. A secret letter from Cardinal Bertone. The alarm of Cardinal Zen." (Sandro Magister)

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    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    "Bishop of Beijing urges pope to visit"

    They want him:

    The Beijing bishop appointed by China's state-controlled Catholic Church said in an interview yesterday that he hopes Pope Benedict XVI will visit his country. "Relations with the Vatican are constantly improving," Joseph Li Shan told Italy's RAI state TV. Li is well regarded by the Vatican, and his installation last year was seen as a positive sign. (AP)

    There's just that little pesky detail about not being in communion with Rome...

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    Monday, November 26, 2007

    The dalai lama dilemma

    Regarding his visiting the Pope, first it was on, now it is off:
    The Vatican said on Monday Pope Benedict did not have any plans to meet the Dalai Lama next month, contrary to a previous announcement that had irked China and raised concern about efforts to improve relations.

    A Vatican official who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters in October the Pope would meet the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism on December 13. The Dalai Lama is considered a traitor by Beijing since leading a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

    China responded by saying the meeting might "hurt the feelings of the Chinese people" and urged the Pontiff to take actions showing he "is sincere in improving relations".

    Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Monday "no audience is planned" with the Dalai Lama and added there had never been an official announcement of a meeting.

    The Pope has made improving ties with China a major goal of his pontificate and issued a 55-page open letter in June saying he sought to restore full diplomatic relations with Beijing that were severed two years after the 1949 Communist takeover.

    Still, the Vatican has long opened its doors to the Dalai Lama but has kept such encounters low-profile.

    Pope Benedict held a "strictly private" and "strictly religious" audience with him in October last year, but omitted the Dalai Lama's name from the list of people received by the Pontiff that day. - Reuters

    Is the Vatican indeed weighing a dalai lama meeting with China relations?

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    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Reports: Pope to meet with Dalai Lama in December

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    China opens world's newest, cheapest subway

    As a recently-initiated metro commuter in DC, I found this all pretty cool.

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    Friday, September 21, 2007

    Hope for China?

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    It's about time for a China post

    The AP reported today:

    A senior official in China's state-sanctioned Catholic Church said in comments published Tuesday that he would like Pope Benedict XVI to visit China.

    Benedict did not dismiss the possibility but said the issue was "complicated.''
    Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, made the comments in an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica in which he praised Benedict's recent letter to China's Catholics as "positive.''

    "I strongly hope to be able to see the pope one day here in Beijing to celebrate Mass for us Chinese,'' Liu was quoted as saying.


    Liu explained that in the past the government saw the Church as meddling in the affairs of the state, but stressed that Chinese Catholics always recognized the sole authority of the pope as far as religion was concerned.

    "The Holy See is the only representative of Jesus on earth, and as Catholics we must follow it," he said. "What we must affirm is our political and economic independence; otherwise we remain a colonial church."

    Recalling visits to Rome in 1991 and 1994, Liu recalled, "I remember that in one Roman church, there were 7 Catholics at Mass, in another 4 and in yet another, I was the only one. I wanted to cry...Italy is the birthplace of Catholicism, but in China, the churches are full." He boasted that the Catholic Church is growing rapidly in China. "In 1979, there were 1,100 priests in China, the majority of them old and sick," he said. "Today we have 1,800, whose average age is 30. The Cultural Revolution destroyed 3,600 churches, all of which we have rebuilt."
    Related: Cardinal Zen warns against confusion surrounding the Pope’s China letter - CWNews

    I think we could very well see a Papal visit to China by the year 2009. Granted, many things have to fall in place. But the amount of progress we've seen in the last couple months should not be ignored.

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    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    The New Beijing bishop candidate

    Thursday, July 05, 2007

    Steve Ray's travels and the situation in China

    Ignatius Insight has a post relating Steve Ray's experiences traveling in China which provide a useful first-person perspective to this question. Go take a look-see or directly at Steve's blog.

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    Saturday, June 30, 2007

    Roundup: The Letter to China

    Friday, June 29, 2007

    The Letter to China, and what it portends

    At long last we have confirmation that Pope Benedict will be releasing his letter addressed to the "bishops, the priests, the religious, and the lay faithful" of China this Saturday.

    It will be released to journalists at 9am (under embargo until noon) and then released to the public, as the VIS states.

    CNA has the best coverage from a Catholic source currently, providing a bit of the backstory to this letter's release:

    "The current situation of division began in 1951 when the officially atheist Communist Party took power and forced Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican. Presently, worship is allowed only in the government-controlled churches which are not allowed to acknowledge the leadership of the Pope. Millions of Chinese, however, belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome.

    Benedict has been reaching out to Beijing in an effort to restore diplomatic ties and unite China's estimated 12 million faithful. The Chinese government and the Vatican have remained divided over the government’s refusal to allow the Pope to appoint bishops and to exercise his papal authority.

    Benedict's decision to address Chinese Catholics in a letter came out of high-level talks on China at the Vatican in January.

    The Vatican statement on the letter, issued yesterday, provided a general indication of the letter’s contents by speaking of the interest in pursuing "respectful and constructive dialogue" with the government while paying tribute to those Catholics who have suffered for their loyalty to the pope.

    Vatican watchers have said they expect the pope will stress the unity of the Catholic Church in the document, which Italian news reports said would be about 28 pages long and read like a mini-encyclical.


    Benedict made clear from the outset of his papacy two years ago that improving relations with China was a key priority.

    He has sent envoys to Beijing to sound out the government on the possibility of restoring ties, and he invited four Chinese bishops — from the official and underground churches — to a meeting of the world's bishops in 2005. Beijing did not let any of the four attend.

    The second part to this story is how it will be received by both the underground and "official", state-approved Church. CNA again reports:

    The reaction of the Beijing government and the underground faithful will be vitally important. Some underground priests have already expressed resentment about the pope's outreach to the government and the official church, according to the “official” bishop of Shanghai, Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian.

    According to the International Herald Tribune’s source, Agostino Giovagnoli, a commentator on Vatican-China relations, "There will be two different reactions." The underground bishops may resent the pope's recognition of the fact that many "official" bishops who were consecrated without Rome's consent have since reconciled with the Holy See, he said.

    "Maybe the reaction of the official bishops will be better," he said.

    Ambrose-a-rama, who lives in China, is "nervous" about the letter's reception.

    Reuters has rather bland coverage. The Associated Press coverage is closer to CNA's, and adds an interesting tidbit that "The Vatican has said it would concede to another key demand of Beijing to downgrade relations with Taiwan in exchange for restoring ties with Beijing."

    That's news to me. What, exactly, could "downgrade relations" mean in this context?

    The AFP coverage likewise prompts more questions than it answers, but does at least remind us that the underground church has more members than the official one. At least, if you can trust these sorts of statistics.

    Update: R-C points to this interview with Cardinal Zen which says that the Chinese authorities received the letter a couple days ago and this would in turn explain reports that the Bishops under the Chinese government have been summoned to Beijing, and - in all likelihood - are being coached how to officially and publicly respond to it. Party line and all that.

    Update 2: CNS fills us in on some details from the officially-sanctioned meeting of Chinese bishops:

    Chinese government officials told about 80 Chinese Catholic bishops, priests and lay Catholics called to a late-June meeting to receive an imminent pastoral letter from Pope Benedict XVI "with calmness."

    ... UCA News learned that top officials from the Community Party's United Front Work Department and from the State Administration for Religious Affairs spoke for more than a half-hour June 28 regarding the papal letter. The Vatican announced June 29 that the letter would be made public June 30.

    ... Zhu Weiqun, United Front deputy director, and Ye Xiaowen, religious affairs administration director, did not reveal the letter's contents at the meeting. However, they did say that China's Catholics should remain calm, no matter what the content of the letter, sources said.

    Update 3: The BBC appears to have some minimal knowledge of the letter's contents:
    In his 28-page document, the Pope pointedly refrains from referring specifically either to the underground church, which is still in communion with Rome, or to the Patriotic Catholic Church, whose bishops have always been appointed from Beijing.

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    Monday, May 07, 2007

    AFP: "China faces baby boom as parents flout rules"

    Maybe for the wrong reasons, but "surprise, surprise," many Chinese parents want to have more than one kid:

    China faces a looming baby boom as newly-rich couples find they can afford to pay fines incurred from having more than one child.

    Upward pressure on the birthrate also is coming from millions of Chinese in their 20s and 30s who are allowed two children under the policy because they themselves were single children, Xinhua news agency quoted China's top family planning official as saying.

    China adopted its one-child policy in 1979 to curb population growth. It encourages late marriages and late childbearing and limits most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two.

    The government claims the policy has led to 400 million fewer births in a nation of 1.3 billion people, but it is controversial. Many families want to keep having children until a male heir is born.

    National Population and Family Planning Commission director Zhang Weiqing said the number of rich people having more than one child is rapidly rising, citing a recent survey by his organisation.

    He also said early marriages are on the rise again in many rural parts of the country, Xinhua reported.

    Separately, growing numbers of pregnant women are risking their own lives and those of their children by seeking back-alley deliveries to avoid fines for having more than one child, Xinhua quoted vice health minister Jiang Zuojun as saying.

    Fines range from under 5,000 yuan (646 dollars) to 200,000 yuan (25,800 dollars) depending on the violator's location and income.

    Xinhua said about half of maternal deaths in east China's Jiangxi province resulted from illegal pregnancies. [source: AFP.]

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    Monday, March 05, 2007

    AmericanPapist: too hot for China

    Dom posted this link to a page that lets you see what websites are being blocked by the Chinese government. His fine blog is blocked, as is mine (see below). I remember having at least one active reader from China, but I have not seen him post in the comment boxes for several months. Perhaps he can no longer access these pages.

    I'd imagine many, many Catholic blogs are blocked. The Chinese government also blocks websites like Google, Facebook, CNN, etc. It appears that the Vatican website is still unblocked, however, because I gave it a try. You're welcome to test websites yourself here.

    Fr. Z recently had a good post commenting on this Sandro Magister article which discusses the real state of the underground Church in China. We need to continue keeping all the Christians of China in our prayers.

    Update: Some of my industrious readers are casting doubts on the diagnosis that this blog is being blocked by Chinese firewalls. It would be very helpful if a Chinese reader could notify me if they can access these pages. Obviously, however, I'm not recommending that anyone do anything that could be personally dangerous or foolish. Thank you!

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