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Pope Francis & China
Yesterday we celebrated the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi whose mission began with a command from Christ to repair the church. Our Holy Father has assumed the name and the task of Saint Francis. As has been widely reported, Pope Francis has been addressing sex abuse within the church, acknowledging the history of neglect and initiating steps to prevent future abuse. The urgency of this task cannot be overestimated, but the church has other concerns, including the longstanding division of the church in China, with the nationally recognized church served by government-appointed bishops who were not recognized by the Vatican and a separate underground church. Last week the Vatican announced that after decades of conversations that began with Pope Saint John Paul II, a provisional arrangement has been negotiated with the Chinese government. Some have expressed concern about the Church ceding authority to a communist government, but Pope Francis has invoked the example of Father Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit who founded the first Chinese mission with the understanding that friendship is the first step for real communication and urged the Chinese people to have faith and work for church unity. Let us pray that Our Lady, whom Saint Francis called “The Virgin Made Church,“ continue to be our model of fidelity and intercessor.