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    » 05/19/2009, 00.00

    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

    11/09/2006 CHINA – ITALY
    Chinese Catholics ask Prodi to raise issue of jailed bishops and religious freedom
    Religious freedom in China better guarantees favourable conditions for the economy. Social stability does not rest on social control or tanks. The Italian Prime Minister, who heads a Catholic country, can explain the importance of the Holy See which is not seeking "Communists' destruction".

    08/05/2008 CHINA
    Government attack against Sheshan shrine bears fruit, number of pilgrims cut by half
    According to shrine figures, only 5,000 people made the pilgrimage this year. Last year at the time they were 11,000. Plainclothes policemen monitor the venue.

    24/03/2010 CHINA – VATICAN
    Another underground priest arrested in Fujian
    He organised a camp for 300 university students. He was charged along with other priests, one of whom was held for 15 days and then released. Two more are waiting for their arrest. Tens of priests are currently detained in prisons or forced labour camps. Three bishops are still in police custody years after they disappeared. The Vatican Commission on the Church in China ends its plenary session today.

    01/09/2005 CHINA
    More than 10,000 faithful attend the funeral of Mgr Xie, underground Bishop of Mingdong


    29/04/2005 CHINA
    Underground Church prays Benedict XVI may visit China




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