jan 272007

Torsdag 25. januar møtte pave Benedikt statsministeren i Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung. Det er første gang noen fra regimet i Ho Chi Minh-byen besøker Vatikanet. Vietnam har en forholdsvis stor katolsk kirke; noen sier at det er 6 millioner katolikker i der, 8 % av befolkningen, mens andre gir høyere tall – i tillegg til det store antallet vietnamesiske katolikker i utlandet. Kirken har tillatelse til å arbeide i Vietnam, men den blir ganske strengt kontrollert.

Men også andre land i Asia har mange katolikker (i tillegg til Filippinene), bl.a. Sør-Korea, og 19.-20. januar holdt pave Benedikt et møte i Vatikanet om Kirken i Kina. . The final statement from the meeting, apart from announcing an upcoming papal letter to the Chinese Catholics, emphasized the heroism of many faithful, priests, and bishops, their refusal to give in to compromises, the reestablishment of communion with the pope among “almost the entirety” of the bishops illegitimately installed by the communist regime in opposition to Rome, and, finally, the “surprising growth of the ecclesial community.”

There are thought to be more than 12 million Catholics in China today. In 1949, before the advent of Mao Zedong, there were 3 million. Every year about 150,000 new baptized persons are added to their ranks, most of them adults. Many of these come from the professional classes and from the universities.

Another country of the Far East in which the Catholic Church is especially vigorous is South Korea. The faithful there have almost doubled in number over the past ten years, and now make up 10 percent of the population. Here, unlike in Vietnam and China, religious freedom is guaranteed, there is a good standard of living, and the challenges facing the Church are more like those found in the West.


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