VATICAN CITY, June 30 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI, in a letter released Saturday, urged reconciliation between the underground Roman Catholic church in China and the government-run church.
In his 28-page letter, Benedict said the church "does not have a mission to change the structure or administration of the state," The New York Times reported. He asked the Chinese government to acknowledge the Vatican has the ultimate authority in the church.
There are believed to be about 12 million Chinese Catholics. Most of them are members of underground churches.
In the letter, the pope praised the government for granting more religious freedom and for its encouragement of economic development. He called for forgiveness from both sides.
"The misunderstanding and incomprehension weighs heavily, serving neither the Chinese authorities nor the Catholic Church in China," the letter said.
The letter was published in several languages, including Chinese.