Indian Cardinal Dias leads Vatican prayer for China

May 24th, 2008 - 11:40 pm ICT by admin  

Rome, May 24 (DPA) A top Vatican official, Indian-born Cardinal Ivan Dias, urged the faithful Saturday to forgive the “past suffering” of Catholics in China and to pray for the unity of the Chinese church. Dias, who as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is one of the Vatican’s top Asian clerics, made the appeal during a service to celebrate Pope Benedict XVI’s “Day of Prayer for China”.

In his homily Dias also called on the faithful to pray for the victims of the recent devastating earthquakes in China.

Benedict in a groundbreaking letter to Chinese Catholics in June 2007 set aside May 24 as day on which a prayer for their country, penned personally by the pontiff, should be held annually.

Dias told the congregation, including 500 Chinese Catholics, gathered in Rome’s Basilica of Saint Mary Major, of the need “to rebuild the Church in China” where Catholics are split between those secretly loyal to the pope and those who belong to a state-sanctioned church.

“For now we know some of the faithful are recognized by the (Chinese) government while others are not, but because in Heaven there is no division between the ‘official’ and the ‘clandestine’ it should be the same on earth,” Dias said.

The cardinal pointed to recent signs of improved relations between the Vatican and Beijing, including a performance for Benedict by China’s state Philharmonic Orchestra earlier this month, and the pope’s well-wishes to the Chinese authorities for the success of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Catholic relief group Caritas estimates that some 180,000 Chinese live in Italy, including 3,000 Catholics.

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