Monday, January 22, 2007

Catholics in China

B16's message of Christian unity has been in the foreground of late.

On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI commented on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is taking place Janurary 18-25. The Holy Father told the pilgrims gathered below his window that, by way of their prayers, all Christians can take part in the task of ecumenism.

The Pope recalled that the theme for this year’s Week of Prayer - "He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak" - is "taken from the Gospel of St. Mark and refers to the people's amazement at Jesus' healing of the deaf man." (CNA - Catholic News Agency)

Christian Unity not only refers to the Eastern Church or our fellow non-Catholic Christians, but also to the growing Catholic Church in China.

This past week the Vatican has held meetings to address the faithful in China: Vatican City, Jan 20, 2007 / 01:36 pm (CNA).- The Press Office of the Holy See has made public a communication which honors the many bishops, priests, and faithful of China, who have, “without compromise,” maintained full communion with the Pope, “even in times when the cost is grave suffering.” The communiqué also states that Pope Benedict XVI will soon write a letter to Catholics in China.

The Vatican message follows a meeting, conducted over the 19th and 20th of January, in which several Vatican officials and Chinese bishops examined “the most grave and urgent” problems for the Church in China and offered their best solutions in light of “the fundamental principles of the Divine Constitution of the Church and of religious liberty.”

The Holy Father also wishes to write a letter to the faithful Catholics of China, both those of the CCPA (Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association) or the "Open Church", and to those of the underground Catholic Church. It appears from the articles that the Vatican is no longer referring to two distinct churches in China, but a greater emphasise is being placed on unity. Both communities in China are being persecuted.

This article (Two Chinese Churches? Or One?) at Ingatius Insight gives some great insight in Chinese faithful with a visit to this community:

On a typically hot and humid summer afternoon I walked through the crowded streets of Taipei to a small Catholic chapel under the care of an Order of missionaries not known by most Americans. I was welcomed at the front door by the Italian pastor, Fr. Consonni Paulo, and directed to the fourth floor where the four priests in residence live in humble rooms. Once there, Fr. Daniel Cerezo, from Spain, offered me a cup of coffee and a biscuit, then showed me to his office. A poster of the saints of China hung behind him and an article about a recently deceased bishop in Mainland China was on his desk. The bishop, one in the "open Church," was his friend. The four missionary priests were invited by the bishop in Taipei several years ago to run a small church in the Jen Ai area of Taipei. They are Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, an Order founded by Saint Daniel Comboni, a holy laborer in the Lord’s vineyard in Africa. Asia is a long way from Africa, but the sons of St. Comboni are now among the few Orders that still bring the Catholic faith into China.

Fr. Cerezo is in an uncommon position; he associates with Catholic bishops, clergy, and faithful in both state-registered and unregistered communities and he is well acquainted with the situation of the Church in China. He speaks warmly of their devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady, and St. Joseph. I was honored that he was agreeable to chatting with me about his impressions of what is happening among the Catholic community in Mainland China, persecuted as it is under what is still an ideologically.

China, and it's growth both in terms of economical as well as military might has been in the news quite frequently. Just last week I read an article about the Chinese military performing it's first anti-satellite test success with the destruction of an aging weather satellite. The Governments suppression of human rights (one child per family), religious rights (arrest of church leaders) reminds me of the old Soviet Union of late (..actually I believe this old regime hasn't really gone away completely).

I firmly believe that the Christian faithful, most specifically Pope John II and the Catholic Church was very instrumental in bringing about the demise of this wicked, totalitarian government (the power of prayer). Papers found in Russia have unveiled that the Soviet's had a hand in the attempted assassination of JPII, showing their fear of the Church. (Read Here) & (Here)

Even today, the Catholic Church in Poland as uncovered priest who were spying for the old Polish Secret Service against the Catholics there in that country. (Read Here)

The perceived new threat of the growth of the Chinese military and it's influence sends shivers down my spine. However, I also know the power of prayer of the faithful. It succeeded in bringing down the old Soviet regime without firing a shot. It will work on the communist regime of China.

We must pray for the Church in China.

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