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Italy    FRANCISCANS REJECT BEIJING CLAIM THAT BISHOP TRAFFICKED IN OPIUM
The Franciscans in Assisi have rejected Beijing's accusation that one of the new Chinese martyr-saints trafficked in opium.
    The congregation has pointed out that a letter currently on display at an exhibition in Assisi, written by Bishop Gregorio Grassi, specifically asks Christians "not to use, cultivate or buy opium." It says that in the original letter, signed in Chinese and in the form of a public notice, the line about opium is underlined in red.
    His pastoral letter is being exhibited, along with other historical documents, in the "Franciscan Martyrs in China" exposition, in the Porciuncula Museum of Assisi.
    The trafficking in opium charge was part of a propaganda campaign being conducted by the Chinese Government in state media in order to discredit last Sunday's canonisation in Rome of 120 Chinese and missionary martyrs.
    Zenit (available soon)
   
6 Oct 00



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