07/02/2013, 00.00
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Cardinal Zen: Year of Faith, 40 catechism classes for the Chinese Church

To celebrate the Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary of the Council, on Wednesdays the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong holds a catechism lesson. Transmitted via the internet to the parishes of the Territory and Macao, the cycle will be released on DVD in mainland China. Speaking to AsiaNews, the cardinal speaks about the initiative and his recent trip to Rome, where he met Francis and Benedict XVI: "I found him rested and enthusiastic about the idea."

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - A year of catechism lessons, to "celebrate the Year of Faith and reap the many fruits that it has brought to the Church and to the world" and to accompany the spiritual growth of new Catholics in Hong Kong and continental China. This is the aim of an initiative that Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop emeritus of the Territory,  presented to Pope Francis and Benedict XVI during his recent visit to Rome.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Card. Zen says: "The courses have been going on throughout the year, every Wednesday, for a total of 40 lessons for an hour and a half per episode: the last one will take place in mid-July. We began in September and of course it is open to everyone. However, there are only 100 seats in the hall of the Salesian House in Hong Kong, so we chose to stream the lessons live on the internet. "

The course he continues, "was divided into three units: a distant parish joined the first unit through the web, then others followed, including Macau: we have about 400 people following live. The diocesan center records the lessons with three cameras and now we are ready to publish them on DVDs. The first unit, the one on dogma, is ready. Later we will translate the whole course into Mandarin Chinese - in the Territory we speak Cantonese - and send it to mainland China".

The initiative stems from a desire to emphasize the importance of current period: "The Year of Faith has borne much fruit: here in Hong Kong we have so much diversity, even in the faith, and we saw groups engaged in several initiatives related to Second Vatican Council, we celebrated the 50th anniversary and the catechism. Activities related to the Catholic world are flourishing, involving associations and institutions".

Moreover, "every year Hong Kong celebrates many baptisms, several thousand at Easter. We insist on Catholic formation: baptism is the beginning, not the end of the journey. It is very encouraging to see that each year 3500 catechumens are followed by volunteer catechists, who have studied in the seminary or Bible study courses and accompany their new brothers and sisters in the maturation of their faith".

The cardinal was recently in Rome, where he met Pope Francis and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI: "In fact Benedict said he was very happy with this initiative, adding that every diocese should do the same. I found him to be very relaxed, rested. To respect his desire for tranquility, we did not discuss 'work-related issues' but pleasant things: he is a man of prayer, who has composed a beautiful prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan. During the last feast of Mary Help of Christians [the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which falls on May 24 -ed] I printed copies of his prayer in German, English and Spanish, and I sent them to the dioceses who speak those languages. Benedict XVI was very happy with this initiative. "

Turning instead to Pope Francis, Card. Zen says, "I already knew Cardinal Bergoglio, we were members of the same Commission that has reaped the fruits of the Synod on the Eucharist. Together we prepared the following Synod and then we met in the General Congregations. At the meeting of cardinals to bid farewell to Benedict XVI we were seated next to each other: I spoke about China and he listened carefully.  He is a very pastoral man and listens intently, he is a wonderful person. "


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