The Holy See is actively studying possible destinations for a papal trip to Asia later this year, during which he would promulgate the apostolic exhortation formally concluding the Synod of Asia, which convened in Rome this time last year.
    Catholic World News reports that this discussion formed a backdrop for a meeting on yesterday between Pope John Paul II and Vasco Joachim Rocha Vieira, the governor of Macao. Macao, which has been a Portuguese colony for 442 years, will be handed over to Chinese authority in December 1999. That prospect is causing real fears among the 440,000 residents, of whom 22,000 are Catholics.
    On 19 December, 1998-- exactly one year before his government cedes its power to Chinese control-- Governor Vieira visited Rome to invite the Pope to visit Macao. Some Vatican officials reportedly gave a warm reception to that idea, believing that Macao would be an appropriate venue for the papal visit and the promulgation of the exhortation based on the Asian Synod. A visit to Macao would have considerable symbolic value, since the island was the base of operations for the missionaries who brought the faith to China and Japan four centuries ago.

11:00am 18/5/99 / Catholic World News


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