Vatican City (AsiaNews) – More than 600 female monasteries are praying “so that the Holy Father’s letter is well-received, China opens up to the Gospels and give unrestricted religious freedom to all believers.” This initiative is the brain-child of Card Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and Fr Ciro Biondi, PIME, secretary of the Pontifical Missionary Union (PUM), one of the Pontifical Missionary Works connected to Propaganda Fide. Their action comes as the publication date of the Pope’s “Letter to Catholics in China,” which the Pope signed on May 27, solemnity of Pentecost, approaches.
In a letter sent to 610 enclosed female monasteries, Cardinal Dias said that Benedict XVI wrote the letter “to express his paternal closeness and offer them some orientation about the life of the Church and the work of evangelisation in that huge country.”
The prelate calls on them to “say special prayers so that the Letter of the Holy Father is well received, China opens up to the Gospels and give unrestricted religious freedom to all believers.”
Cardinal Dias said that “the Catholic Church [in China] is split in two groups in relation to the government: an official Church recognised by government authorities and an “underground” Church. This creates a lot of problems and confusion among the clergy and the faithful.”
”All Catholics , , , are united in professing the one faith in their fearless loyalty to the Successor of Peter. For this reason many of them have experienced terrible persecution and died for the cause of Christ and the Church.”
Citing Tertullian, one of the early Fathers of the Church who said that the “blood of martyrs is the seed of the church,” the prefect of Propaganda Fide noted that “it is comforting to realise that the Church in China, despite the harsh persecution that has lasted five decades, is undergoing a strong numerical growth. Almost everyone of the hundred or so bishops in that territory are in communion with the Holy See, vocations to the priestly and religious life abound, the faithful attend holy mass in great numbers and are very devoted to the Most Holy Mary, Help of Christians and Queen of China.”
In the message to the enclosed nuns, Fr Ciro Biondi calls the Pope’s letter “a very important and much expected event that will become a milestone in the history of the third millennium.”
The PUM’s secretary calls on the nuns to “dedicated a week of prayers so that the message of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, can bear fruit which He and all the Church hope for.”
He also calls on every nun to spread the word of the initiative to every monastery in the world.