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HAEMI, South Korea - Pope Francis made his strongest gesture yet to reach out to China on Sunday, saying he "earnestly" wants to improve relations and insisting that the Catholic Church isn't coming in as a "conqueror." Francis outlined his priorities for the Catholic Church in Asia during a meeting of the region's bishops, urging them to listen to people of different cultures and show them empathy in dialogue. "I earnestly hope that those countries of your continent with whom the Holy See does not yet enjoy a full relationship may not hesitate to further a dialogue for the benefit of all," he said. Deviating from his text, he added: "I'm not talking here only about a political dialogue, but about a fraternal dialogue," he said. "Christians aren't coming as conquerors."
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope's remarks were "obviously a sign of goodwill for dialogue" with China as well as the other countries in Asia with which the Vatican doesn't have diplomatic relations, including North Korea and Vietnam.