05/23/2021, 13.34
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Pope: Let us pray for the Catholics in China 'whom I hold deep in my heart'

Pope Francis’s invitation for the Chinese faithful, on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan and the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China.  "The Holy Spirit is like a strong and free wind".  He "connects different people by realizing the unity and universality of the Church".  “In the Church there are small groups that are always seeking division, to detach themselves from others”.  Tensions in Colombia;  the eruption of Goma;  the conclusion of the Laudato Si 'Year.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - An invitation to pray for Catholics in China "whom I hold deep in my heart" was addressed by Pope Francis to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the recitation of the Regina Caeli.  Recalling that tomorrow, May 24, is "the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians and heavenly Patroness of their great country", the pontiff underlined that "the Mother of the Lord and of the Church is venerated with particular devotion in the Shrine of Sheshan  in Shanghai and is assiduously invoked by Christian families, in the trials and hopes of daily life ”.

Since 2008, at the behest of Benedict XVI, the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China has been celebrated on 24 May.  On this occasion, the faithful from China and from around the world make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Sheshan.  But this year, again due to the pandemic, the sanctuary remains closed for the entire month of May, although amusement parks and hotels in the surrounding areas are open at full capacity.

The Pope continued, exhorting the Chinese faithful to be united: "How good and how necessary it is for the members of a family and a Christian community to be ever more united in love and faith!  In this way parents and children, grandparents and children, pastors and faithful can follow the example of the first disciples who, on the solemnity of Pentecost, were unanimous in prayer with Mary awaiting the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, I invite you to accompany with fervent prayer the Christian faithful in China, our dearest brothers and sisters, whom I hold deep in my heart.  May the Holy Spirit, protagonist of the Church's mission in the world, guide them and help them to be bearers of the good news, witnesses of goodness and charity, and builders of justice and peace in their homeland ”.

Previously, the pope had commented on the event of Pentecost as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles (2: 1-11).  “The Holy Spirit - he said - is like a strong and free wind, it brings us strength and freedom.  It cannot be controlled, stopped, or measured;  nor can we predict its direction.  It does not allow itself to be framed in our human needs, in our schemes and in our prejudices ”.

The pontiff recalled that the apostles “did not yet have the courage to come out into the open.  We too, at times, prefer to remain within the protective walls of our environments.  But the Lord knows how to reach us and open the doors of our heart.  He sends the Holy Spirit upon us who envelops us and overcomes all our hesitations, breaks down our defenses, dismantles our false certainties.”

“The Spirit - he added - changes the heart, widens the eyes of the disciples.  It makes them capable of communicating God's great works to everyone, without limits, going beyond the cultural and religious boundaries within which they were used to thinking and living.  It enables them to reach others while respecting their possibilities of listening and understanding, in the culture and language of each one (vv. 5-11).  In other words, the Holy Spirit puts different people in communication, realizing the unity and universality of the Church ".

Speaking off the cuff, the pope said: “In the Church there are small groups that are always seeking division, to detach themselves from others.  And quoting "a good cardinal of Genoa" he recalled one of his thoughts, according to which, the Church "is like a river, the important thing is to be part of the river, it doesn't matter if you are a little more to one side, the Holy Spirit creates unity ".

After the Marian prayer, Francis first of all asked for prayers for the situation of social tension that is experienced in Colombia: "I pray that the beloved Colombian people will know how to welcome the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that through a serious dialogue we can find just solutions to the many  problems that especially the poorest suffer from the pandemic ”.  He also urged "to avoid for humanitarian reasons harmful behaviors for the population in the exercise of the right to peaceful protest".

He then recalled the population of Goma (Democratic Republic of Congo), forced to flee due to the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano.  Finally, he thanked "those who participated with numerous initiatives around the world" in the Laudato Sì Year, and announced the birth of "Laudato Si 'Platform, a seven-year operational path that will guide ... to pursue a sustainable lifestyle."

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