The destiny of China and its Church are in Mary’s hands, says Cardinal Zen
by Joseph Zen
Here is an authoritative comment by the bishop of Hong Kong to AsiaNews about the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China that Benedict XVI launched for 24 May. In it he talks about local authorities’ fears and obstacles, his hope in a “spiritual victory” and his solidarity for Sichuan earthquake victims.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The World Day of Prayer for the Church in China which we celebrate tomorrow is a great day. We entrust the destiny of China and its Church in the hands of Our Lady on this day for She likes us and is very powerful. Since the situation in China is not as optimistic as some might believe, Our Lady is our only hope to tear down walls and touch hearts.

Here in Hong Kong we prepared ourselves for the Pope’s Day of Prayer with a novena in every parish church dedicated to Mary. There are about 15 across the territory and each evening the faithful of each parish and those from neighbouring parishes met to pray. Tomorrow we shall end the novena by gathering in the church dedicated to Mary, Help of Christians. Since it is also the eve of the Corpus Domini we shall also perform the Eucharistic procession. These are days of great participation.

Talking about China I am under the impression that the authorities are too edgy about the Day of Prayer. Not only are they creating problems for pilgrimages but they are also ordering many priests not to conduct any pastoral work during the month of May as if this month might turn into a revolution.

A priest from the underground Church said that since the beginning of May he has been under the surveillance of two policemen day and night. They follow him when he goes to the doctor or the dentist.

I can’t imagine what they [the authorities] think Catholics do in May. They are so scared.

Ours is a spiritual revolution that harms no one and is good for all.

This fear is something negative and runs askance of acts of friendship and closeness that have taken place in recent months like concerts by the Beijing Philharmonic Orchestra and the Shanghai Choir in the Vatican.

It seems to me that these two approaches come from different levels. Positive signs come from the top leadership; negative ones come from lower down the hierarchy. The latter fear that normalising relations between China and the Vatican might cut into their existing advantages and so they do all they can to stand in the way. The Lord and Our Lady shall however win.

Perhaps these mid-level officials are also afraid when we talk about “victory” because they fear it might be about real wars. Then again we are no longer in an age of religious wars.

What we are hoping for is a spiritual victory that ultimately benefits everyone. When Our Lady wins, everyone wins.

It is important that party officials under our language; otherwise they will think that we are going into battle. In reacting to the Pope’s letter they actually said: “Beware, weapons and armies are at the gates!” Our weapons and armies are spiritual though, full of benevolence and forgiveness.

Being optimistic is worth it. But for now though it is important to keep going for a while to help rescue the victims of the Sichuan earthquake. It is a catastrophe of huge proportions, but China has opened up, become transparent and thrown its doors wide open to international aid regardless of origin. It is a good start. Let us hope that it will continue to be like this in the future.