Vatican starts Chinese website but some fear block

Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:22am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican is launching a Chinese version of its website in an effort to bring more of Pope Benedict's message to China, whose communist government does not allow Catholics to recognize his authority.

Some Church sources and diplomats said they feared the site could be blocked by Chinese authorities, as has been the fate of other websites.

The Vatican said on Monday the Chinese version of the website will be launched on Thursday. It already has versions in seven other languages.

The pope's speeches and other content will be available in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters.

China's communist government does not allow its Catholics to recognize the Pope's authority and forces them to be members of a state-backed Catholic organization.

China's 8 million to 12 million Catholics are split between the officially approved church and an "underground" one loyal to the Pope.

While the Vatican statement said it hoped the site would be used by "Internet users from throughout the world," Church sources and diplomats said they feared the site would be blocked.

"As long as the website does not post anything the government objects to, it will be OK," said Father Bernardo Cervellera, head of Asia News, a web-based religious news agency that specializes on China.   Continued...

<p>Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leads his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in this recent photo from March 11, 2009. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>