Thursday, August 21, 2008

A pope at the closing ceremonies?

While we're on the topic of the Olympics, on Wednesday of this week, His Excellency Giuseppe Li Shan, Archbishop of Beijing (China). While consideration of a papal visit to China is yet a bit premature, the director of the Vatican press office said today that the invitation is encouraging.

There has been more than a bit of discussion about the attendance of various heads of state at the Olympics, and just a whee bit of wondering about whether their presence in China might signal a hope for cultivating ties of friendship with the world's most populous country, but the Vatican has definite protocols in place for answering an invitation such as that which was issued during the interview that Archbishop Li Chan did this week with Italian public television.

The willingness of the Chinese authorities to welcome the pope would certainly signal progress toward his dream for the Chinese people, expressed in his recent letter to Catholics of that country. Whether such a visit will eventually come to pass is a matter of time, planning and lots of work yet to be done behind the scenes. Stay tuned.

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