MESSAGE TO CATHOLICS IN CHINA
Pope John Paul II
Broadcast over church-run Radio Veritas 14 January 1995.
From Manila, where I have come for the celebration of the 10th WorldYouth Day, I wish to send a special and affectionate greeting to allChinese Catholics who make present and visible on Chinese soil thechurch of Christ, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, a community offaith, hope and charity.
Dear brothers and sisters of the church in China, I am well aware ofthe difficulties amid which you are called to bear witness to yourfaith in Christ. The Second Vatican Council speaks of the wholechurch in a way that is very applicable to your experience: "Like a pilgrim in a foreign land, the church presses forward amidthe persecutions of the world and the consolations of God,proclaiming the cross and death of the Lord until he comes (cf. 1Cor. 11:26). By the power of the risen Lord, she is given strength toovercome patiently and lovingly the afflictions and hardships whichassail her from within and without, and to show forth in the worldthe mystery of the Lord in a faithful though shadowed way, until atthe last it will be revealed in total splendor" (Lumen Gentium, 8).
To you, dear Catholics of China, divine providence has entrusted thetask of living the faith in the midst of a people of ancient culturaltraditions. You are called to be "the salt of the earth" and "thelight of the world," "that all may see your good works and give gloryto your Father who is in heaven" (Mt. 5:16). Keep your gaze fixedthen on "Christ, the light of the nations." Do not be afraid: He hasovercome the world (cf. Jn. 16:33), he is with you always (cf. Mt.28:20).
Your witness will be all the more eloquent if it is expressed inwords and deeds of love.
Jesus said so: "By this all men will knowthat you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn.13:35). Love among yourselves, first of all, but love also for allyour Chinese brothers and sisters: a love which consists of understanding, respect, forbearance, forgiveness and reconciliation withinthe Christian community; a love which involves service,self-sacrifice, fidelity, hard work, honesty and justice in society asa whole.
Genuine love, however, cannot be separated from truth. St. Paulreminds the Ephesians to "live by the truth and in love" (Eph. 4:15).Dear brothers and sisters, the profound unity which marks everyCatholic community throughout the world must be based on the truthwhich shines forth in the Gospel and on the charity which is born ofthe heart of Christ. This must also be the case with you! Every day Ipray for you, asking the Lord to help you remain united as livingmembers of the one mystical body of Christ.
Unity is not the result of human policies or hidden and mysteriousintentions. Instead, unity springs from conversion of the heart andfrom sincere acceptance of the unchanging principles laid down byChrist for his church. Particularly important among these principlesis the effective communion of all the parts of the church with hervisible foundation: Peter, the rock. Consequently, a Catholic whowishes to remain such and to be recognized as such cannot reject theprinciple of communion with the successor of Peter.
How many testimonies of faith, how many messages of fidelity I havereceived from communities throughout China! Bishops, priests,religious and lay people have wished to reaffirm their unshakable andfull communion with Peter and the rest of the church.
As pastor ofthe universal church, my heart greatly rejoices at this. I earnestlyinvite you all to seek paths to communion and reconciliation, pathswhich draw their light and inspiration from the truth himself: JesusChrist.
I entrust all of you to the maternal protection of Mary, queen ofChina.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father andthe communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen
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