On this year Christmas eve, Pope Benedict has prayed for religious freedom in China, and peace in Syria.
During his Christmas message to the world, the 85-year-old pontiff spoke of hope, as he addressed the deep-seated conflicts gripping different regions of the world.
Pope Benedict expressed his wishes for Chinese leaders to, quote “esteem the contribution of the religions”, respect different beliefs so as to build a society that benefits both the people of China and the world.
In China, Catholics are divided between the state-controlled church, and those loyal to the Vatican. The Chinese regime does not recognize the Vatican’s authority, and tensions have run high between the two sides.
Most recently, the Chinese state-run Church stripped the title from the auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, Thaddeus Ma Daqin. He resigned from his role under the state-run Christian organization earlier in the year, after his appointment was officially approved by the Vatican.