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Pope issues urgent call: pray for the Church in China

CWN - May 18, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI has called upon all the faithful to pray for the Church in China, as Catholics there prepare for a special day of prayer for Church unity.

The Pope, who has designed May 24 as a day of prayer for Chinese Church, told his May 18 general audience that “all Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China.” He added that the Catholics of China “have a right to our prayers; they need our prayers.”

On May 24, at the Pope’s bidding, Chinese Catholics will make a special appeal to the Virgin Mary, help of Christians. The day of prayer is centered on the shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai. Pope Benedict called for the day of prayer as a means of promoting unity within the Chinese Church, which is torn by the conflict between the “underground” Church loyal to the Holy See and the “official” Church which is under the control of the government-backed Catholic Patriotic Association.

“By our prayers we can obtain for the Church in China that it remain one, holy and Catholic, faithful and steadfast in doctrine and in ecclesial discipline,” the Pope told his Wednesday audience. The prayerful support of the universal Church is vitally important to Chinese Catholics, he added, “to keep their hope strong, to keep their love for all people ardent, and to maintain in its integrity the ecclesiology that we have received from the Lord and the apostles.”

In China, meanwhile, authorities have forbidden members of the “underground” Catholic Church to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan for the feast day. Some Catholics have vowed to ignore the ban, and will make their pilgrimages this weekend. “The atmosphere is very tense,” a priest told the AsiaNews service.

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