· Vatican City ·

Cardinal Parolin at the conference on China

 Cardinal Parolin at the conference on China  ING-021
24 May 2024

“The Pope is the spiritual leader of all Catholics in the world, regardless of their nationality; but this obedience to the Pope not only does not harm the love each person should have for their own country, but rather purifies and enlivens it.” These words, spoken by Archbishop Celso Costantini, the first Apostolic Delegate to China, over 100 years ago, are highly relevant today.

The late Archbishop clarified that “such communion is the best guarantee of a faith shielded from external political interests and firmly anchored in local culture and society.” Archbishop Costantini tirelessly worked, despite difficulties, delays, and resistance, to ensure that the Gospel of Christ took root in Chinese soil and was compatible with local society and culture. Archbishop Costantini also organized and promoted the Concilium Sinense, the first and so far the only Synod of the Catholic Church in China, whose centenary was celebrated on Tuesday, 21 May, at an International Conference promoted by the Pontifical Urban University, in collaboration with Fides news agency and the Pastoral Commission for China.

Among the key speakers in the morning session was Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.

Looking back at history, Cardinal Parolin highlighted that although the Council of Shanghai was a “particular council;” it held “a broader ecclesial significance.”

The Chinese assembly was “a model for many other mission countries that, following its example, would prepare to celebrate their own national synods in the following years.” According to Cardinal Parolin, the remembrance of what happened holds “great value” even for the present time of the Church, which, at Pope Francis’ invitation, is engaged in reflection on synodality, calling the People of God “to be responsible and protagonists in the life of the Church.”