Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pope Francis: Chinese Church “Is in my heart"

Pope Franics received John Cardinal Tong, the Bishop of Hong Kong, on Tuesday.  The theme of the audience was the situation of persecuted Christians in the People’s Republic of China.  The Pope has said that the Chinese Church is in my heart.  “I pray daily for her”, says the Pope.

From katholisches… to be continued.  From Vatican Insider:

Cardinal Tong, the only Chinese cardinal to have participated in the recent conclave, talked with the new pope on a number of occasions in the days following his election. He revealed what the Pope said to him in those encounters, when he spoke during a solemn mass in Hong Kong’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on April 8 to celebrate the inauguration of the Petrine ministry of Pope Francis. encounters.

The Chinese cardinal resided in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where all the cardinals stayed during the conclave, from March 12, when the conclave began. He remained there until March 20, when he departed for Hong Kong, where he is bishop.

Pope Francis too resided in that same guesthouse and has actually decided to continue living there, instead of moving to the papal apartment on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace, because he wants to be near the people. As a result, he and the cardinal met several times in the days following his election.

In his homily in Hong Kong Cathedral, Cardinal Tong recalled how after his election as pope in the Sistine Chapel on March 13, at about 7 pm, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio took the name Francis. Then, after putting on his white cassock, “he first went to embrace Cardinal Ivan Dias who had difficulty in walking.” Tong noted how “the new Holy Father really cares for everybody, particularly the weak.”

Then, he said, Pope Francis “accepted the congratulations and loud applause of the cardinals” and then “one by one, we extended our personal greetings and embraces of love to him.”

When it came to his turn, Tong presented the new Pope with “a small bronze Chinese statue of Our Lady of Sheshan” and told him, “The Catholics in China love you and will pray for you. Also, we ask for your care for all Chinese Catholics, and please pray for us!”

Pope Francis smiled and responded, “Chinese Catholics have given many testimonies to the Universal Church”. Then to Tong’s surprise, “He kissed my right hand to show his love and devotion for the Church in China. This gesture moved me deeply.”

Next day, March 14, at 5 pm, he recalled that Pope Francis celebrated his first mass as Successor of Peter in the Sistine Chapel together with all the cardinal electors, and in his homily, “he shared with us his reflections about the Church. He highlighted three actions that the Church must take: Journeying with the Lord under the light, actively building up the Church, proclaiming the Gospel and professing our faith. All these focus on the Crucified Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Hong Kong born cardinal revealed that on March 15, early morning, when he was on his way to the chapel in the Domus Sanctae Marthae he happened to be on the same elevator as Pope Francis. The Argentinean-born Pope then told him that the statue of Our Lady of Sheshan, now standing in his own room, reminded him of the Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier who arrived in China more than 460 years ago, . “He told me he never forgets to pray for Chinese Catholics”, the cardinal said.

During Mass that morning, he said, “Pope Francis pointed out in his homily that St. Ignatius of Loyola taught us not to forget the Suffering Jesus whenever we encounter difficulties in life; in this way, God will help us to enter into the mystery of Jesus’ resurrection.” Then, towards the end of his homily, Tong said, “unexpectedly, Pope Francis openly thanked me for the statue of Mary.”

Later that same day, when Pope Francis greeted all the cardinals, one by one, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Tong revealed, “I thanked him for remembering the Catholics in China.”

On March 20, the day after the papal installation, Cardinal Tong bade farewell to Pope Francis before departing for Hong Kong, and told him, “On behalf of the Church in China, may I congratulate you again and thank you for your care and prayers for the Church in China.” At that point, he said, the Pope “kissed my hand again to show his devotion to the Church in China, and told him, “The Church in China is in my heart”.

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