From an interview granted to Italian daily La Repubblica by the lay leader of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, Liu Bainian, as he publicly welcomes the words of the Papal letter to Chinese Catholics:
I hope, with all my strength, to be able to see the Pope one day here in Beijing, celebrating Mass for us, the Chinese. Italian Catholics cannot imagine how much he wish to see him. By way of La Repubblica, I wish to send the Pope a special salutation: may he know that we always pray for him and that the Lord may give us the grace to welcome him among us.
I was twice in the Holy City, the first one in 1991, and the second in 1994, and I had the grace of being able to see John Paul II; I was moved and awestruck. But when I rose in the morning to go to mass, I was terrified: the Roman parishes were semi-empty. I recall that I entered a church in which there were only seven faithful, in another one four, in one I was the only one to attend Holy Mass. I even cried, of sadness and of humiliation. Italy is the land of Catholicism, but it is in China that the churches are full.