From 30,000 feet, Pope Francis reaches out to Beijing

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Pope Francis passes through a color guard with South Korean President Park Geun-hye after attending a welcoming ceremony in the garden of the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Thursday (Aug. 14). Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Pope Francis passes through a color guard with South Korean President Park Geun-hye after attending a welcoming ceremony in the garden of the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Thursday (Aug. 14). Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

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BEIJING (RNS) Even a routine message, like the greeting Pope Francis sent by telegram Thursday as his plane crossed over China, carries historic significance given the two sides' often-fraught relationship.