Trouble brewing on day of prayer for China
On the day dedicated to prayer for China, the communist government's treatment of Catholics loyal to the Pope in the country continues to cause concern. Appeal and prayer below
Ten more bishops are to be appointed in China without Vatican approval.
Confirmation of the news today by former president of the Patriotic Association Antonio Lui Bainian came on the date chosen by Pope Benedict XVI for the faithful throughout the world to pray for the persecuted Church in China. Mr Lui Bainian recently said that the Holy Father should not meddle in the internal affairs of ‘China’s Church.’
Last night Chinese government officials set up security checkpoints around the shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan, discouraging Catholics from traveling there to mark the Pope’s special day of prayer for the Church in China. In spite of the barricades, Bishop Xing Wenzhi, an auxiliary of the Shanghai diocese, still planned to celebrate Mass at the shrine today.
China’s conflict with the Vatican stems from the existence of the Patriotic Church, which is controlled by the Chinese government. Its leaders continue to appoint bishops without the authorisation of the Pope. In December of 2010, 40 bishops, priests and Chinese lay people who are faithful to the Holy See—often referred to as the ‘underground Church’—were forced by the Chinese Government to take part in the Assembly of Catholic Representatives, an institution controlled by the communist government.
Yet hope, and help, for China’s Catholics is still very much alive.
Cultural Exchange with China (CEC), a UK-based organisation that builds links with the Catholic Church in China, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
“There has been significant movement in the last ten years in that CEC can now openly use its strapline ‘Building bridges between the Catholic Churches of Britain and China’ in all its communications at all levels of Chinese Church and Government,” Columban Fr Eamonn O’Brien, the CEC’s director, told the group’s AGM on May 14.
For more on the Cultural Exchange with China visit http://cecuk.org/ where donations can be made electronically or send cheques to the Scottish Catholic Observer Charity Appeal, 19 Waterloo Street, Glasgow, G2 6BT. Sort Code—805401, Account Number—00946719.
Prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan
In 2007 the Holy Father chose May 24 as the annual day for prayers for China as it is the feast of the Blessed Mary, Help of Christians. The following year he composed a prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan (below) and asked that Christians throughout the world recite it on May 24:
Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians,” the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection. We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.
When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously co-operated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live.
From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter. Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.
Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus. In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love. Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built. Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!