Pope urges China to allow religious freedom
December 3, 1996
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EST (0230 GMT)
VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Speaking at a special Mass, Pope John
Paul II Tuesday appealed to the Chinese government to
legalize the Roman Catholic Church and allow its followers to
Chinese Catholics are allowed to worship openly only if they
belong to the state-sponsored Catholic Patriotic Association.
The association, which claims to have 4 million members,
appoints its own bishops, and does not recognize the Pope's
authority. The "underground" church is believed to have
several million members.
The Pope's Mass at the Vatican marked the 70th anniversary of
the ordination of two Chinese monks and the 50th anniversary
of the establishment of a Roman Catholic Church hierarchy in
China. The pope also urged the underground church to
reconcile with the state-run church and reunite with Rome.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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