ROME. Catholics in China know how to treasure papal teachings, said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.
With “love, affection and immediacy,” Chinese Catholics “follow the suggestions and pastoral indications that come to them from the Church of Rome and its bishop,” the pope, said the cardinal, who is pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization’s section for “the first evangelization and new particular churches,” that is, the Church’s mission territories.
The cardinal, whose maternal grandfather migrated to the Philippines from China, spoke May 13 at the Rome headquarters of the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica for the presentation of a book in Chinese by Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, the journal’s director.
The book, titled “The Magisterium of Pope Francis: A Guide to Reading His Encyclicals and Apostolic Exhortations,” is a collection of reflections on Pope Francis’ three encyclicals and five apostolic exhortations. It can be downloaded for free from the website of the Chinese edition of La Civiltà Cattolica at gjwm.org.
In his talk, the cardinal said he believed the book “will be received with such gratitude in China” because of “the love, affection and immediacy with which the Chinese Catholic communities follow the suggestions and pastoral indications that come to them from the church of Rome and its bishop.”
“The many reports on the Church in China published by Fides,” the news agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies, “show how, for at least 20 years, Chinese Catholic parishes have been carrying out their daily journey, always following the suggestions and guidelines of the ordinary magisterium of the successor of Peter.”
“For them it is a gift and a sign of communion with the universal Church. And they often take advantage of this gift in a creative and contextualized way,” he said.
“In China, there is a whole living network of prayers, liturgies, catechesis and pastoral initiatives directly inspired by the pope’s ordinary magisterium,” he said. “It is a lively and intense reality of faith, which lives and expresses a daily communion of faith with the successor of Peter and the whole universal Church, even if it is generally ignored by the media when they speak of the Chinese Catholicism.”
Cardinal Tagle gave numerous examples of initiatives carried out in Catholic parishes in China during the pontificates of St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis in order “to document how references to the papal magisterium are the daily bread of the pastoral life of Catholic parishes and dioceses in China.”
The new book “is a gift that will also be able to confirm and strengthen the special affection that binds Pope Francis to Chinese Catholics and to all the Chinese people,” he said, citing the pope’s message to Chinese Catholics in 2018. In the message, the pope gave thanks for their faith, which is “marked by the experience of martyrdom” and is a “treasure of the Church in China and of all the pilgrim people of God on earth.”
Cardinal Tagle said the book also should be “worthy of particular interest” to Chinese citizens who are not Christian.
Pope Francis’ teachings offer pastoral and spiritual suggestions and “words of wisdom, even in the face of the problems, trials and sufferings that affect the whole human family,” he said. “All of this finds great resonance in the current condition of Chinese Catholics,” and many of the issues the pope addresses “also affect the concrete lives of their compatriots, who share with them the expectations and concerns of Chinese society.”