Pope Meets with Orthodox Archbishop, Issue Joint Declaration
China: government plans to blow up Marian shrine
Bishop Jia Released After 17 Days
Pontiff Praises Eastern Churches Expresses Hope for Unity With Orthodox
Tell the Truth Boldly, Urges Pontiff Reflects on Life of St. John the Baptist

Bishop Jia Released After 17 Days
BEIJING, JUNE 24, 2007 (
The underground Catholic bishop of Zheng Ding has been released after 17 days of solitary confinement. reported that Bishop Jia Zhiguo, 73, was returned Friday afternoon to his episcopal residence in the Hebei province in northeast China. He had been arrested June 5.  AsiaNews reported sources saying that the bishop was kept in isolation in an army barracks near Zanhuang.

The bishop has been sequestered a total of nine times since 2004.
According to many faithful, the police and government in Hebei fear that the Pope's letter may result in tension and unrest. 
Hebei is one of the provinces worst hit by the Chinese governments anti-Catholic persecution, and the area with the greatest concentration of underground Catholics.
Tell the Truth Boldly, Urges Pontiff Reflects on Life of St. John the Baptist

Benedict XVI, on the solemnity of the birth of St. John the Baptist, called on the Church to bear "witness to the truth without compromise."  The Pope said this today in the address he delivered before praying the Angelus with the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square.  The Holy Father urged the faithful to follow the example of the cousin of Christ, and to not be afraid to denounce "transgressions of God's commandments" even when the protagonists are people in power.  "John the Baptist was the precursor, the 'voice' sent to announce the Incarnate Word.  For this reason, to commemorate the birth of John the Baptist in reality means to celebrate Christ, the fulfillment of the promises of all the prophets, of whom John was the greatest, called to 'prepare the way' before the Messiah," the Holy Father added, speaking from the window of his study.

Benedict XVI explained that John the Baptist was "the first 'witness' of Jesus, have received instruction about him from heaven: 'The man on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is he who will baptize in the Holy Spirit.'"  After having known the fullness of the reality of Jesus of Nazareth, John the Baptist made it "known to Israel," indicating him as "Son of God and redeemer of man: 'Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,'" the Pope said, quoting the Gospel of John.

Recalling the beheading of John the Baptist, the Bishop of Rome added: "As an authentic prophet, John bore witness to the truth without compromise. He denounced transgressions of God's commandments, even when the protagonists were people in power.  "Thus, when he accused Herod and Herodius of adultery, he paid for it with his life, sealing with martyrdom his service to Christ, who is the truth in person." 
The Holy Father expressed a desire that "the Church of our time know how to be ever faithful to Christ and testify with courage to his truth and his love for all."
China: government plans to blow up Marian shrine
Submitted by ABN on Sun, 2007-06-24 17:03. Politics of Buddhist Countries | Religion | China

This should come as no surprise to readers of this site. ABN
TIANJIAJING - 25 June 2007
A popular Marian shrine in Eastern Central China, is to be dynamited by local government order, because it has been designated as a centre of 'illegal religious activity'.
AsiaNews reports that the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Tianjiajing, with a statue of Our Lady over one hundred years old, is to be destroyed, along with 14 stations of The Way of the Cross.
.The local government has banned the annual 16 July pilgrimage to the shrine, which attracts 40,000 - 50,000 people. It has also forbidden any other religious gathering in the area.
The sanctuary was built around 1903, by a priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, Monsignor Stefano Scarsella, then apostolic vicar to northern Henan Province, to thank the Virgin for saving the community during the Boxer Rebellion.
Pontiff Praises Eastern Churches Expresses Hope for Unity With Orthodox
Benedict XVI paid tribute to Eastern Christians, expressing his gratitude for their fidelity at the price of martyrdom. The Pope said this when he visited the headquarters of the Congregation for Eastern Churches on Saturday as part of the dicastery's 90th anniversary celebrations.
He said: "Today the Pope gives thanks to Eastern Christians for their fidelity at the price of the shedding of blood -- admirable accounts which fill the pages of history even to the present-day martyrology!"

During the visit, the Holy Father publicly announced the appointment of a new prefect for this congregation: Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, who until recently served as undersecretary in the Vatican secretariat of state, overseeing the division of g eneral affairs.
Archbishop Sandri succeeds Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, 76, who resigned for reasons of age.

Pope Benedict XV, whose pontificate lasted from 1914 to 1922, established the Congregation for Eastern Churches.  Benedict XVI said he took the name of a "Pope who dearly loved the East" because he wants his pontificate to be "a pilgrimage to the heart of the East."  The Holy Father told Eastern Christians that "he wants to stay by their side."  He reiterated "his profound appreciation for the Eastern Catholic Churches for their particular role as living witnesses of the origins.  Without a continuous connection with the tradition of the origins," the Pope said, "there is no future for Christ's Church."

Esteem and affection
Benedict XVI added: "In a particular way, the Eastern Churches guard the echo of the first annou ncement of the Gospel; the most ancient memories of the signs performed by the Lord; the first beams of the paschal light, and the reverberations of the unquenchable Pentecost fire.
"Their spiritual legacy, rooted in the teachings of the apostles and the Fathers of the Church, has generated venerable liturgical, theological and disciplinary traditions, showing the ability of 'Christ's thought' to make fruitful cultures and history.  "It is for this reason that I, like my predecessors, feel esteem and affection for the Orthodox Churches: because we are joined by a particularly close bond. We have almost everything in common, and above all, we have in common the sincere hope for unity.  "From the bottom of my heart, I pray that this dream may soon come true."

The Congregation for Eastern Churches supports the Eastern Catholic Churches, helping them to grow, protecting their rights and maintaining in the universal Church t he liturgical, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony of the East.  These Churches maintain the traditions and liturgies of the Orthodox Churches, but are set apart by their obedience to the Bishop of Rome.
The Vatican dicastery has authority over the following regions: Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, Eritrea and northern Ethiopia, south Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.
Pope Meets with Orthodox Archbishop, Issue Joint Declaration
18-June-2007 -- Catholic News Agency   (CNA)
The Holy Father received His Beatitude Chrysostom II, Archbishop of New Justinian and of Cyprus, in Rome on Saturday. The two exchanged greetings and met privately, before adjourning to the Vatican Library. There, the two leaders made formal statements, before exchanging gifts and signing a joint declaration in favour of ecclesial unity and of peace in the world.
In his discourse, the Benedict XVI said that the Archbishop Chrysostom’s visit was a consolation for him, because in this event he sees how “the Lord has not ceased to guide our steps in the way of unity and of reconciliation.”  The Pope observed that the Archbishop “had not come from Cyprus to Rome simply for an exchange of ecumenical courtesy, but to strengthen the firm decision to persevere in prayer so that the Lord may show us the way to reach full communion.”

The Archbishop of the Orthodox Church replied that “perhaps our eyes will not be able to see the much-desired unity of the Church, but with the grace of the Holy Spirit we will have done our duty in time and space as peacemakers and as true brothers, "ut omnes unum sint.  The Orthodox way passes through spirituality, penance, fasting, the study of the texts of the Fathers of the Church…the sense of the sacred and above all, the Divine Eucharist: these are our spiritual weapons and we desire to fight together with the sister Church of Rome to transform European society, which is anthropocentric, into a Christocenctric society.”

In the joint declaration, the two spiritual leaders affirmed together their “firm and sincere disposition, in obedience to the will of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify the search for full unity among Christians.” They encouraged, in addition, the Catholics and Orthodox Christians of Cypress to live in fraternity, due to their common Christian faith, and encouraged dialogue among Orthodox and Catholic theologians.
Finally, the two Church leaders appealed for peace: “We address…this appeal to all those who, anywhere in the world, raise their hand against their own brothers, exhorting them firmly to set down their arms and to work towards a healing of the wounds caused by war.”