Beijing (AsiaNews) - In response to Pope Francis, many dioceses throughout China have opened their cathedrals Holy Door. The ceremonies were held yesterday and during last week. Each diocese also printed the Chinese edition of Misericordiae Vultus, the Bull of Indiction of the Holy Year and distributed it to the faithful present at the ceremony, inviting all to read it and spread it even among non-Christians.
The Jubilee of Mercy has also trended on the internet. Many Christians evangelize by sharing messages on wechat, posting lyrics and songs linked to the Holy Year, news about events in the Vatican and at local level, inviting everyone to participate, especially those who often do not go to church. Many underground communities, not having a church building in which to conduct the ceremonies and the opening of the Holy Door, simply gathered in prayer and reflected on the Bull. Some underground dioceses are thinking about building a "door" in a home or in a yard, to help the faithful to understand the transition and conversion to Christ.
Often, where there are official bishops in communion with the Pope, the faithful of the underground community benefit from registered churches and the Holy Door of the official cathedral. In some dioceses, however, where there are illegitimate bishops, the Holy Door - though blessed - is adorned with phrases glorifying socialism and the Patriotic Association, the Party body that wants to build a Church independent from the Holy See.
In the Diocese of Beijing, the Holy Door was opened on December 12, at 9 am at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Nan Tang) by Msgr. Joseph Lishan. Surrounded by priests, nuns, seminarians and laity, the bishop urged the faithful to be "grateful to God for the opening of the Holy Door on 8 December with which Pope Francis inaugurated the Jubilee of mercy."
"The Holy Father - he continued - has opened the doors of Mercy of the Lord for all of us because the Pope constantly gazes at Jesus and His merciful image. We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of Mercy of the Lord which is the spring of joy, calm, and peace for us".
In Shanghai, there was no ceremony in the cathedral. First, because the facade is being restored. Some priests have said the Holy Door will be opened until work has concluded. In the interim, they added "every door of the church is a Holy Door". Another reason for the lack of the official opening ceremony is the fact that the bishop of the diocese, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, has been held under house arrest in the seminary of Sheshan for almost three years. Msgr. Ma is allowed to have a blog on Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter). So far, however, the blog has not been updated and there is still no mention of the Holy Year by the bishop.
In the diocese of Xian (Shaanxi), there was a mass start of the Holy Year on December 6. The bishop, Msgr. Anthony Dang Mingyan, spoke of the Papal Bull and explained how faithful can obtain the indulgence. The full text of the Bull was printed in the diocesan weekly and distributed free of charge. The Holy Door will be open in the near future, as the cathedral of St. Francis is being restored. The community of the cathedral, however, have already begun planning works of mercy, suggested by the Pope as an expression of this Holy Year. Every Sunday in front of the cathedral they prepare and distributes food to the homeless. In addition, there is the distribution of basic necessities for poor people.
Again in Shaanxi Province, as well as in Sanyuan, the Holy Door was opened in Zhouzhi, where Bishop Martin Wu Qinjing, ordained 10 years ago, was recently accepted by the Patriotic Association, which had segregated him under house arrest. The ceremony brought together about 5 thousand faithful.
In Nanchang, Msgr. John Li Suguang opened the Holy Door and celebrated Mass Dec. 8, feast of the cathedral, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The bishop explained the meaning of the logo of the Jubilee and how faithful can recieve the indulgence. He also encouraged the faithful to go in search of their "brothers and sisters who are lost” .The diocese has printed the Misericordiae Vultus and distributed it free of charge to all. The diocese is also planning to organize volunteer services to help people in need. The results of this commitment will be presented in the closing ceremony of the Holy Year.
In Zhejiang, the Wenzhou diocese celebrated Mass for the start of the Jubilee on December 9. After reading some passages of Misericordiae Vultus, Msgr. Zhu Weifang opened the Holy Door. In recent months, Msgr. Zhu and his priests had protested strongly against the campaign for the demolition of crosses and churches.
Even the mainstream media of the government has mentioned the Holy Year in Rome, giving ample space to issues of security and threats of terrorism. Discrete space was also given to the spectacular light show that took place in the evening when images inspired by Creation were projected onto the facade of St Peter's Basilica, "Fiat lux: Enlighten our common home", inspired by the encyclical "Laudato sì '."