The big Chinese delegation in Krakow for 31st World Youth Days has not lost hope. “The government has done so much to discourage us, but they cannot win all the time.” One day the Pope “will celebrate young people in China." Participants express the joy and the wonder of being in Poland. “Religious aspect of this trip aside, the trip is a source of wonder. At home, it is like living in a kind of cultural prison”; what impresses here “the most so far is meeting the world.”
Krakow (AsiaNews) – AsiaNews met a group of young people from mainland China, who are in Poland to celebrate the great festival of Mercy with other young people from around the world.
Despite government tricks and violence, these young Chinese Catholics in Krakow have a dream: "bringing World Youth Day to China.”
“The government has done so much to discourage us,” they said, “but they cannot win all the time. The Party is 70-years-old; the Church is 2,000-years-old. We are confident that sooner or later the pope will join young people from around the world from China”.
The group includes parishioners from Beijing, Xian and Guangzhou. The latter are the luckiest, because "we had almost no problem.”
Still, “so many of our friends had to stay home even though they wanted to come, out of fear or veiled threats from the authorities. But now we are here and we want to enjoy this meeting until the end. "
Hosted by several Polish families, they have been in Poland since 19 July, working on preparing the gathering. They are set to return home on 5 August, but before they go they plan to visit a Marian shrine in Europe after the WYD.
Chen, 20, comes from the Chinese capital. "The religious and spiritual aspects of this trip are of course very important, but what impressed me the most so far is meeting the world.”
“I travelled abroad four years ago with my parents, but it was with a Chinese tourist group. We visited Venice, Milan and Paris. But it was still like being in China, including speaking Chinese and eating Chinese. Instead, here we have the whole world, without filters. It is really wonderful."
The wonder is heightened by China’s current situation. "At home, it is like living in a kind of cultural prison. We have become richer, we have more things, but school and the authorities push us to live always and only in our world. Even chatting with young people in other countries is seen as evil. Imagine trying to learn more about other cultures. In this sense, government 'sinicisation' appears to have won the battle."
By contrast, events like World Youth Days knock down barriers, and not just in relation to religious freedom. "We are concerned about what will happen when we get home, of course. Still, what is done is done. We want to enjoy this great opportunity all the way. We will participate in all the events that include Pope Francis, including the morning catechesis in various Krakow churches. As time goes by, we realise more and more that this trip will change our life."
The pontiff will arrive in Poland tomorrow afternoon. The official opening of World Youth Days is instead this afternoon with the Mass at BłoniaPark celebrated by Card Stanisław Dziwisz.
The young Chinese will follow the whole schedule.
"It would be a dream to hear Francis speak about our country. Do you think he will? I hope so.”
“Sure, I understand that there are many things at stake: the relationship between Beijing and the Vatican, the freedom of movement of our priests, bishops in prison . . . But if he could spare a moment for us, that would be great, even just a prayer. I do not think Beijing would be angry . . . ".