Cardinal Dias Praises Courageous Loyalty of China’s Bishops and Priests


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(29 Jul 10 - RV) Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples has addressed a letter to the Bishops and priests of the Church in China, calling on them to strive for greater unity with the Pope and amongst Christians.

The letter, dated July 5th, was written to mark the end of the Year for Priests and makes three main points.

First, that a priest must be "a Man of God and a Man for others". The Cardinal writes that being a ‘Man of God' means leading men and women to God; being ‘a Man for others' means he must resist material temptations, favours for his family or ethnic group, ambitions of making a career in society or in politics

Secondly, Cardinal Dias goes on to reflect on the important role of a bishop or priest as an operator of unity within the Church, which he says has two dimensions: communion with the Holy Father and union among individual members of the ecclesial community.

He praises the "exemplary and courageous loyalty towards the See of Peter demonstrated by Catholics in China" describing it as "a precious gift of the Lord", stating how the Vatican is well aware "of how some of you suffered in the recent past because of loyalty to the Holy See". Quoting Pope Benedict he also reminds them that "Communion with Peter and with his Successors is in fact a guarantee of freedom for the Church's Pastors and for the Communities entrusted to them".

The Cardinal then addresses unity among individual Christians in China. He notes it is an "important challenge you are already tackling , as you seek to strengthen unity within the Church herself".

Again quoting Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Dias warns against the evil of division within the ecclesial community, "Ruptures are in fact symptoms of the power of sin that continues to act in members of the Church even after the redemption. However, Christ's word is clear: "Non praevalebunt they shall not prevail".

Finally the Cardinal on more occasions than one expresses his and the Holy Father's spiritual closeness to China's Christian community. He writes "I long to say these things to you personally, to hear about your joys and your woes, about the hopes you nurture and the challenges you face every day. Your testimony and your messages fill us with consolation and spur us to pray fervently that the Lord may render you ever stronger in the faith and sustain your activity to propagate the Good News of Jesus Christ in your beloved country".