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» 05/20/2010
HONG KONG – CHINA – VATICAN
You should be at the Marian shrine of Sheshan, Pope tells Card Zen
by 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
05/22/2008 CHINA – VATICAN
In China the Church is getting ready for the World Day of Prayer in union with the Pope
by Bernardo Cervellera
05/25/2009 CHINA – VATICAN
The day of Prayer for the Church in China under control. Pope’s Letter is blocked
04/24/2008 CHINA
New restrictions and controls on pilgrims to Sheshan shrine
05/24/2012 CHINA - VATICAN
Thousands of pilgrims reach Sheshan on pope's Day of Prayer
by Jian Mei
05/24/2008 CHINA – VATICAN
Even in persecution we pray to Our Lady of Sheshan
by Wang Zhicheng

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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