China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it hoped the Vatican could acknowledge the reality of religious freedom in the country, after the pope said Beijing was putting pressure on the faithful who want to remain loyal to the Vatican.
“We hope the Vatican can squarely face the reality of religious freedom in China and the continuous development of Chinese Catholics, and take concrete actions to create conditions for developing Sino-Vatican ties,” ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing.
China’s 8 to 12 million Catholics are divided between the state-sanctioned church that names bishops without the Vatican’s approval and an underground church wary of government ties. China forced several bishops and priests loyal to the pope to attend a meeting of the state-backed church last year, rankling the Vatican. Read the full story here.
Pope Benedict has said China’s communist authorities were putting pressure on faithful who want to remain loyal to the Vatican and he hoped the Chinese church could survive attempts to divide it from Rome. He called on Wednesday for all Catholics to pray for the faithful in China, who are not allowed to recognise the pope’s authority but forced to be members of a state-backed Church.