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    » 05/20/2010, 00.00

    HONG KONG – CHINA – VATICAN

    You should be at the Marian shrine of Sheshan, Pope tells Card Zen

    Annie Lam

    Hong Kong’s bishop emeritus leads a prayer vigil for religious freedom and the Church in China. He reveals bits of conversation he had with Benedict XVI during the pilgrimage to Fatima.
    Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – “Your heart must be in Sheshan, Cardinal Zen,” Pope Benedict XVI said to him on 13 May at the recent pilgrimage to Fatima. “Since I cannot be in Sheshan, I came here (Fatima),” Cardinal Zen replied, adding that he would pray for the suffering Church in China when he visits Turin, Italy, on 24 May, feast of Our Lady Help of Christians.

    Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, shared this moment in a meeting with about a hundred Hong Kong Catholics at a prayer meeting held for the Church in China on Tuesday.

    In his address, he also spoke about Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 Letter to the Church in China, in which the Holy Father called on Christians to set aside 24 May as a special day of veneration to the Marian shrine of Sheshan, which is near Shanghai.

    In the letter, the Holy Father wrote, “24 May could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China”.

    Chinese Catholics in Italy observed this day of prayer for China on 8 and 9 May. They also used the occasion to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Father Matteo Ricci, a native of Macerata (Italy).

    Card Zen told the prayer gathering that mainland bishops are feeling “desolate” since they are controlled and pressured by the authorities; nevertheless, he urged them not be afraid and remain true to their principles. Recently, some unlawfully ordained bishops tried to co-celebrate during the installation service of some bishops approved by the Holy See.

    In his intervention, Cardinal Zen also referred to a statement released by the Vatican’s China Commission, which met in March 2010. In it, the commission called on mainland bishops to maintain their dignity and responsibility as leaders of their respective communities, avoiding gestures that run counter to the communion with the Pope, such as talking part in Episcopal ordinations, co-celebrations and meetings involving unlawfully ordained bishops.

    During the prayer, organised by the Diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission, a video clip was shown of Bishop Han Dingxiang of Yongnian who died in detention in 2007 as well as pictures of missing Bishop Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding and Bishop Su Zhimin of Baoding. The Chinese government does not recognise any of the three.

    An audio message was also played. In it, two mainland Catholics spoke about their life and faith, underscoring the lonely existence endured by some priests as well as their limited spiritual training.

    They explained that rural Catholic communities still pray and attend Mass and that Catholic students and young workers are actively in involved in evangelisation and faith training in the cities.

    During the vigil, participants prayed for religious freedom in China, especially for detained Catholics, priestly vocations and better religious education, as well as for unity and solidarity in Church communities.

    They also placed lit candles on top of a map of China, singling out specific provinces for which they will pray on 24 May.

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    See also

    22/05/2008 CHINA – VATICAN
    In China the Church is getting ready for the World Day of Prayer in union with the Pope
    The government stops pilgrimages and gatherings, but in Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Guangzhou official and underground priests, religious and faithful prepare to pray the Pope’s words about Our Lady of Sheshan. In addition to the Pope’s intent they will pray for Sichuan quake victims, grateful to the Universal Church.

    25/05/2009 CHINA – VATICAN
    The day of Prayer for the Church in China under control. Pope’s Letter is blocked
    No diocesan pilgrimages to the Sanctuary of Sheshan because of bans. Little publicity even in the diocese of Shanghai. In Hebei the Catholics go without mass because the priests are under arrest. Access to the Vatican website with Benedict XVI’s Letter (in Chinese) is still blocked.

    24/04/2008 CHINA
    New restrictions and controls on pilgrims to Sheshan shrine
    Security cameras, travel restrictions on local highways, obligation to get a government permit to visit the Marian shrine of Sheshan during the month of May are now in place. Surrounding dioceses have also been “warned” not to organise groups to celebrate the first day of prayer for the Chinese Church as proclaimed by the Pope.

    24/05/2012 CHINA - VATICAN
    Thousands of pilgrims reach Sheshan on pope's Day of Prayer
    Fr Thaddeus Ma Daqin, vicar general of the Diocese of Shanghai, and 40 priests celebrated Mass. A large number of plainclothes police monitored worshippers from other dioceses during the pilgrimage month. In Hebei, an underground priest and seminarian are arrested. Mgr Paul Li Yi, bishop of Luan (Changzhi, Shanxi) dies.

    24/05/2008 CHINA – VATICAN
    Even in persecution we pray to Our Lady of Sheshan
    A Chinese Catholic from the underground Church sends AsiaNews a message for World Day of Prayer for the Church in China in which he highlights how the faithful pray in communion with the Pope despite hardships and repression, hopeful that he might soon bear witness to a true unity of the Church with the Pontiff.



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