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» 05/19/2009 13:55
VATICAN – CHINA
Prayer in Naples for the Church in China as Chinese Catholics face difficulties in Sheshan
The day of prayer dedicated by Benedict XVI is in its second year. At least 400 Chinese Catholics in Italy are expected to take part in a Mass presided by Naples archbishop, Cardinal Sepe. Again this year Chinese authorities are trying to contain participation by Catholics, official or underground, to the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Sheshan.

Rome (AsiaNews) – A prayer for the Church of China will be held on 24 May in Naples Cathedral; all Chinese Catholics in Italy are invited. Organisers expect some 400 of them to make the journey to attend the bilingual (Italian-Chinese) ceremony that will presided by Naples’ archbishop, Card Crescenzio Sepe.

Pope Benedict XVI launched the idea of dedicating a day of prayer to the Church in China each year on 24 May in his Letter to Chinese Catholics, published in June 2007. On that day Chinese Catholics celebrate the liturgical memory of Mary, Help of Christians, who is venerated at the Sheshan shrine, a site to visit especially on that day and throughout the month of May.

By instituting this prayer the Pontiff aimed at strengthening the unity between underground and official Catholics and their communion with the successor of Peter.  By calling on the Lord for strength, he sought help for Chinese Catholics so that they can persevere in bearing Christian witness and this despite all the suffering and persecution they have to endure.

In the meantime news have reached AsiaNews  that the Chinese authorities are imposing limits once more on access to the shrine, that no pilgrimage from any diocese other than Shanghai and Sheshan will be allowed.

Last year, various provincial authorities issued restrictions for would-be pilgrims who planned to visit the Sheshan shrine. Instead they required Catholics who lived in other jurisdictions to limit their pilgrimage to local shrines. This had the effect that Catholics from outside of China were stopped from reaching the Marian shrine which is located near Shanghai.

Again this year, indications are that Catholics will have to pray only in their own diocese of residence. The Shanghai city government even announced special traffic controls between 30 April and 31 May.

Despite all the restrictions (which did not apply to Shanghai Catholics) at least 2,500 people took part in the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Sheshan last year.

According to local Catholics, restrictions by local authorities have been imposed because Sheshan has become the symbol of loyalty to the Pope and a place where official and underground Catholics can meet.

For this reason the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association has fought against this state of affairs in order to better divide and control Catholics in its bid to set up a Catholic Church that is independent of the Holy See.


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See also
09/11/2006 CHINA – ITALY
Chinese Catholics ask Prodi to raise issue of jailed bishops and religious freedom
05/08/2008 CHINA
Government attack against Sheshan shrine bears fruit, number of pilgrims cut by half
03/24/2010 CHINA – VATICAN
Another underground priest arrested in Fujian
09/01/2005 CHINA
More than 10,000 faithful attend the funeral of Mgr Xie, underground Bishop of Mingdong
04/29/2005 CHINA
Underground Church prays Benedict XVI may visit China

Editor's choices
CHINA - EUROPEAN UNION
Xi Jinping returns home full of deals and silence
by Bernardo CervelleraThe Chinese president signed agreements worth tens of billions of Euros in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. He also stayed clear of any press conference. At the College of Europe in Bruges, he presented his dream of a new trillion-dollar Silk Road. Yet, he also made it clear that at home, the monopoly of power stays with the Party, squashing any dream for political reform in China. On the Internet, netizens disagree with him.
VATICAN
Pope announces a 'festival of forgiveness' for 28-29 March in St Peter's Basilica and churches around the worldPope Francis made the announcement after today's Angelus. "We must celebrate the forgiveness the Lord gives us as did the father in the parable of the prodigal son, who, when the latter returned, organised a party, putting out of his mind all the things the son had done." When Jesus met the woman of Samaria, he "tore through the biased mind-set against women." The pontiff also called on the pilgrims to say, "Every encounter with Jesus changes one's life; every encounter with Jesus fills us with joy." He also sent his greetings to a Japanese school.
CHINA-VATICAN
Msgr. Fan Zhongliang's funeral attended by 5,000 priests and faithful from the official and underground Churches
by Jian MeiMsgr. Ma Daqin, who is under house arrest, was absent. In the liturgy the priests referred to him as "our Bishop Ma Daqin". During the celebration and prayers, Msgr Fan was also referred to as a "bishop", although the government prohibits the use of this term for a non recognized prelate. During the service, red vestments were used, "a sign of martyrdom". Hope for the unity of the Church in China is growing.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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