Rorate Caeli

Papal Letter to Chinese Catholics: some details

Korazym brings details of the letter to the Catholics of China to be released by the Holy See in the next few weeks (maybe "even next week"):

-It will be released in the format of a simple "Letter", named "Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Bishops, the clergy, and the faithful of the Church in China" (even though there have been several encyclicals sent to specific nations in the History of Pontifical Documents, that has not been the use in recent pontificates, and the names "Encyclical" and "Apostolic Letter" will not be used);

-Its original draft was apparently written in Italian;

-The Italian version will have 28 pages;

-The letter will be published in Chinese and Italian, as well as in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French

-The text includes a historical retrospective of the past five decades of Catholic events in China, including a reference to two past encyclicals.

We would add that the Letter to Chinese Catholics is not only itself very relevant, but that it also is, apparently, an important temporal reference point for future events.


  1. Anonymous8:41 PM

    LOL, what kind of "simple letter" has 28 pages? NewCatholic said, this is a VERY significant letter.
    We Catholics thought we had it hard in America...

  2. Anonymous4:31 PM

    The significance of the Chinese letter for Catholic traditionalists in the West will lie in a specific topic that has cross-importance for the SSPX: the unauthorized consecration of bishops. It was the actions of the "Chinese Patriotic Church" in that regard which prompted Pius XII to elevate the penalty from suspension a divinis (its sanction in the 1917 Code of Canon Law) to excomuunication, a measure reaffirmed with the 1983 Code.

    The pre-1950s penalty is, to my mind, a powerful counterargument to the notion of this being an "inherently schismatic act" as was affirmed in 1988's Ecclesia Dei Adflicta against Lefebvre's consecrations, so I for one will be most interested to see how Benedict develops the topic in his new letter to the Chinese. (Noise has been made on Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog that this is a topic that will be discussed therein.) - Somerset '76

  3. An excellent point, Anonymous.

    I would add the following words of the newly-named Sostituto of the Secretary of State, Archbishop who, when "Nuncio to Hong Kong" (legally, he was an "Attaché in the Manila Nunciature"), had the following to say regarding certain Chinese matters, in a letter to Cardinal Tomko:

    «The faith in China ... is that of the Universal Church, even if currently its demonstration is expressed in different degrees, and there are no doubts about the validity of the sacraments». Additionally, «in the effort to rebuild step by step relations between the Chinese and Universal Church, gestures of reception rather than separation must be made».

    Source: 30 Giorni


  4. Anonymous10:02 PM

    How can the faith in China be universal?
    The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ and is officially illegal in China. It's bishops, priests and laity are hunted, arrested, tortured and killed.
    The so-called Patriotic Church of China was founded by Mao Zedong precisely to separate the faithful from the universal Church of Rome. It does not "express" or "demonstrate" the same faith.
    The late bishop of Beijing, Michael Fu Tieshan, was vice-president of the People's National Assembly and took orders from president Hu Jintao, not the Popes..

  5. Anonymous11:42 PM

    The letter is very significant, indeed, and quite likely to upset quite a few stereotypes about the Chinese Church - particularly the commonplace belief (in the US) that there is something called a "Patriotic Church." There isn't, at least insofar as the Holy See is concerned. For the last decade or so they've followed a "one Church, two faces" policy with China's Catholics. Hopefully, the letter clarifies what that's all about. I'd also like to know how it's possible that - according to news reports - 90% of the bishops of the Patriotic Church, or whatever it's called - are recognized by Rome.

    Don't know if anybody has seen it here, but quite a few Catholic-oriented blogs are buzzing about a profile of Shanghai's "Patriotic" bishop in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly. It is a subscriber only article, but there's an interesting interview with the author that's available for free here:

    On the last page, there's an audio file with the author and the former president of Seton Hall who describes how he reconciled one of the Patriotic bishops in the mid-80s.

    It's an interesting article, and one that I encourage Catholics - even traditionalists - to read.

  6. Anonymous7:55 PM

    Sorry to have to break this to you but the Atlantic Monthly article produces nothing but the well-known "Official Church" line of thinking and of revisionist history. It's 100% predictable in every single aspect. Don't bother with it. Read Asia News about China instead and make up your own mind. The author of Atlantic montly is naive at best when he presents this as an "inside" perspective that will "upset stereotypes about the Chinese Church". It's nothing more and nothing less than what any Open Church member towing the Party Line will tell you (i.e. those close to the Patriotic Association, which therefore can correctly called proponents of a Patriotic Church). The writer is an American who lives in Shanghai and admits to having no underground connections. And boy, it shows.


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