Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "I am ready to go to China". This is how Pope Francis replied to the correspondent of the French newspaper La Croix, during the flight from Rome that was bringing the Pope, the papal entourage and accredited journalists to the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan, where the Bishop of Rome will participate in the VII Congress of the Heads of world and traditional religions (14-15 September). During the brief greeting exchanged by the Pope with each of the journalists on board, the French journalist asked the Pope whether he might meet Xi in its capital Nur-Sultan, where both men will be on Wednesday, September 14 – when Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected in the Kazakh capital on a State visit. The Pope replied: "I don't have any news about that, but I'm always ready to go to China".
During his pontificate, Pope Francis has repeatedly publicly expressed his willingness and desire to go to China. "Do I want to go to China? Sure: tomorrow!" the Pontiff had already replied on August 18, 2014, during the press conference on the flight that brought him back from Seoul to Rome, at the end of his apostolic Journey to the Republic of Korea. "We" the Pontiff added on that occasion, more than 4 years before the signing of the provisional agreement between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China on the appointment of Chinese bishops (see Fides, 22/9/2018) "respect the Chinese people; only, the Church asks for freedom for her mission, for her work; no other conditions".
During the flight to Nur-Sultan - reports the newspaper Avvenire - Pope Francis also received, as a gift, the cakes for the Chinese moon festival sent to him by Chinese painter Zhang Yan, author of the portrait of John Paul I exhibited on Sunday, September 4, on the facade of St. Peter, on the occasion of the beatification of Pope Luciani. (GV/NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 13/9/2022)