Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Benedict Working On Trip To China

John Paul II made some historic visits -- Israel, Poland, etc. Now Benedict has revealed plans for a historic visit of his own: a papal visit to China.

Here's the story from the AP:


Pope Benedict XVI told a delegation from Hong Kong he will visit China in what would be an extraordinary papal visit to the communist nation, but he said the trip's timing depends on "God's wish," media reports said Tuesday.

One of the Vatican's goals is to restart official relations with China, which forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Holy See in 1951 after the officially atheist Communists took power. People can worship only in government-controlled churches.

Pope John Paul II, the most-traveled pontiff in history, was unable to visit China during his 26-year papacy. Pope Paul VI made a three-hour stopover in Hong Kong in 1970 when it was a British colony.

No pope has ever visited mainland China.

The Hong Kong delegation was in Rome for ceremonies installing 15 new cardinals, including Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen.

Zen, an outspoken champion of religious freedom in China, said he believed the pope would visit Hong Kong first if he made a China trip.

"Hong Kong is part of China and perhaps he should come here as a first step," Hong Kong's South China Morning Post quoted Zen as saying.

The delegation included Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai, who told the pope Monday, "Please come to China to bring us love and democracy," Lai's Apple Daily newspaper reported in a front-page story. The pope responded, "I will come," the newspaper reported.

But he said the timing depends on "God's wish," the Ming Pao Daily reported, quoting Hong Kong Catholic Diocese vicar the Rev. Dominic Chan.

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