An official with China's state-controlled Catholic church praised an open letter from by Pope Benedict XVI to China's Catholics, which was published over the weekend. "The pope, through his papal letter has expressed his love and concern for China's believers. … Earlier papal letters were opposed to communism and the socialist system. They wanted to [punish] members of China's patriotic church," Liu Bainian, deputy head of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, told AFP. Liu said it was a sign that the Holy See wanted to gain a better understanding of China's church, adding that he hoped the Vatican and Beijing would soon be able to establish formal relations. An earlier government statement in response to the letter reiterated China's demand that the Vatican must sever ties with Taiwan if it is to make progress with Beijing. In his letter, the Pope offered reassurances that the Catholic Church poses no threat to the Chinese government. However, he did warn that China's official church was "incompatible with Catholic doctrine."