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Monday, March 23, 2009

Vatican launches Chinese website

AS Pope Benedict XVI concludes his first papal visit to Africa, increased efforts have been put in place to unite the church in Asia and around the world, with the Vatican dedicating a Chinese section of its website on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, reports Catholic News Agency (CAN).

According to a press statement from the Press office at the Holy See, the Chinese “will be the eighth language to be represented on www.vatican.va, which also includes Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Latin.”

Also, the new service will expand the reach of Pope Benedict’s speeches and documents to the Chinese-speaking world. The texts will be available in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters, the press office said.

Meanwhile, while in Cameroon, the Pope met with President Paul Biya, though no details of the meeting was made available to the media as at press time. Mr. Biya has been in power since 1982, and is one of Africa’s sit-tight presidents.

Amnesty International, the human rights watchdog group, recently accused Biya of seeking to crush political enemies.

The Pope also met with Cameroon’s 31 bishops, urging them to promote the sanctity of marriage given that secular forces threatened the traditional African family.

He also warned them that while the Catholic Church in Africa is the fastest growing in the world, it faces competition from increasingly popular evangelical movements and “the growing influence of superstitious forms of religion.”

The Pope said it is the duty of all Christians, but particularly those with political and economic responsibilities, to spare the poor from the impact of globalization by building a “more just world where everyone can live with dignity.”
The Pope later visited Angola.

In a related development, Pope recently at the town of Oies, the birthplace of a canonized Italian missionary, Pope Benedict XVI said China is growing in international importance but must also “open up” to Christ.

“We know that China is becoming increasingly more important politically and economically, and also in the life of ideas,” the Pope said at a church in the small town, reports ANSA. ‘’It’s important that this great continent opens up to the Gospel of Christ.”

He said St. Joseph Freinademetz—an Italian missionary to China whose grave he was visiting--showed that “faith does not alienate any culture or people, because all cultures are waiting for Christ and will not be destroyed. In the Lord, they reach their maturity.”

The saint lived and died as a Chinese man, but in heaven too he remains Chinese, the Pope declared, saying the missionary “identified with these people and with the certainty that they will open up to the faith of Christ.”

St. Joseph Freinademetz was ordained a priest for Bressanone at the age of 22 but decided to become a missionary, arriving in Hong Kong in 1879. Despite the threat of persecution, he remained in China until his death from typhus in 1908.

On Sunday after reciting the Angelus in Bressanone, Pope Benedict sent his best wishes to China as it prepares to open the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Pope Benedict XVI has been attempting to open greater dialogue with China.

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