Jim Yardley: China’s Divided Catholics Unite, if Just to Mourn
China’s 12 million Catholics are mourning the death of John Paul II, but his passing is also a reminder of an unfinished legacy: the division of Chinese Catholics from the rest of the church, and from each other. Indeed, if John Paul II helped bring down Communism in Eastern Europe, the Communist Party that rules China proved resilient. The two sides never came to agree to normalize relations between the Vatican and China and end the diplomatic break that began more than a half century ago under Mao.
On a personal level, the pope never achieved his goal of visiting China.
Even so, his death has underscored his enormous influence among Chinese Catholics, those underground and those in the official church. It also has offered a glimpse at how the church here has changed and become harder to define.