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from issue no. 02/03 - 2010

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s letter to the Bishop of Baoding diocese

by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

His Excellency
The Most Reverend Francis An Shuxin
Coadjutor Bishop of Boading
Boading People’ s Republic of China

N. 696/10/RS

From the Vatican, 10 February 2010
Dear Brother Bishop,
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was pleased to read the letter which you wrote to him on 12 November 2009 in which you expressed your sentiments of faithfulness to Christ and the Church and your filial devotion to the Successor of Peter.
In this regard, His Holiness has requested me to communicate the following to your Excellency:
1) The Holy Father is spiritually close to you, to the Diocesan Bishop James Su Zhimin and the entire diocesan community. He follows the life of the Church in China with great attention, showing special concern for those diocesan communities living in particularly difficult situations.
2) The Supreme Pontiff sends a special blessing to your Diocesan Bishop James Su Zhimin, who for many years has been deprived of freedom and the possibility of exercising his Episcopal ministry towards the flock entrusted to his pastoral care.
3) With regard to your Eucharistic concelebration with Bishop John Su Changshan, everyone is now in a position to know that this occurred because Your Excellency was aware that Bishop Su Changshan ardently desired and insistently requested full communion with the Holy Father. Bishop Su was troubled by the situation which caused him much suffering, and he awaited the response of the Holy See to his letters in which he gave assurances that Episcopal ordination without the papal mandate was against his will. This case is to be considered closed.
4) The Holy See is aware that your presence in the Chinese Catholic patriotic Association gives rise to difficulties and issues which are delicate and complex. In your specific situation, such a decision should have been avoided. Nevertheless, in the present circumstances it seems preferable for Your Excellency not to give up, on your own initiative, the possibility you have at present of acting in an official way and to accompany and lead all your priests, whether official or clandestine. The Holy See will continue to follow the question and if there are significant developments, it will not fail to come to Your Excellency’ s assistance with suitable guidelines.
5) In the meanwhile, the Holy See counts on the obedience which the entire clergy of Baoding owes you in the absence of Bishop Su Zhimin.
6) With these sentiments, the Supreme pontiff invokes divine protection on Your Excellency and on the priests, religious and all the lay faithful of the Diocese of Baoding and imparts his Apostolic Blessing.
As we approach the celebration of the Chinese New Year, allow me to associate myself with the prayer and good wishes of the Holy Father that the forthcoming season of Lent may provide an opportunity for fresh commitment and renewal on the part of the entire diocesan community of Baoding in faithful service to Christ and the Church.
Asking you to bring the above to attention of the Diocese of Baoding in the manner you consider most opportune, I entrust Bishop Su Zhimin, as well as your Excellency and all the priests, religious and lay faithful to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, venerated at Donglu under the title of Our Lady of China. With the assurance of my prayers and fraternal good wishes, I remain, Your sincerely in Christ,

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone Secretary of State

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