China is sending positive signals to the Vatican that should not be overlooked, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone says.
Beijing has sent positive signals on the right to worship during the Olympic Games as the Chinese capital prepares for this week's opening ceremony, Cardinal Bertone told Italian TV according to a Straits Times report.
"We know that there will be three churches in Beijing in which it will be possible to pray and to attend Mass and we know that the bishops of Macao and Hong Kong are invited to the Olympic Games", said Cardinal Bertone.
"These are positive signals that should not be overlooked", he said.
China and the Vatican have not had diplomatic relations since 1951.
Meanwhile, on vacation, Pope Benedict on Tuesday traveled to the town of Oies near Bressanone to visit the birthplace of St Joseph Freinademetz, a missionary to China and the most popular saint in the region.
A Divine Word missionary, St Joseph Freinademetz spent thirty years in China. According to the director of the Holy See's Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, "the fact that the Pope desires to honour this great missionary figure, a missionary to China - which is a subject very much present nowadays in the Pope's prayers—is something that should unite Catholics."
The fourth of thirteen children from a German speaking family in northern Italy, St Joseph Freinademetz went to China as a missionary, where he learned the language and customs, adopting local cultural mannerisms that helped him to preach the Gospel.
He profoundly identified with the Chinese and said, "I want to continue being Chinese even in heaven."
Beijing sending 'positive signals' on religious freedoms: Vatican (Straits Times, 5/8/08)
Pope visits birthplace of missionary saint to China (Catholic News Agency, 5/8/08)