FAITH NEWS SERVICE – In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued a letter to the Church in the People’s Republic of China and designated 24 May, the feast of Our Lady of Help of Christians, as an annual worldwide day of prayer for the Church in China.
He prayed that Catholics around the world might support “the commitment of those in China who, among their daily labours, continue to believe, hope, and love, so that they might never fear to speak of Jesus to the world and of the world to Jesus.” Finally, Pope Benedict implored the Mother of God to “help Catholics to be always credible witnesses of love, remaining united to the Rock of Peter, upon which the Church is built.”
Care for Chinese Catholics
Since the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has shown special concern for the Chinese faithful. Every year on the Day of Prayer, the Pope never fails to show his affection and connection to all Chinese Catholics.
A key moment in diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China took place on 22 September 2018, with the signing of the Provisional Agreement.Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin praised the agreement as “both a point of arrival on a long road and, above all, a starting point” for “a new phase of greater collaboration for the good of the Chinese Catholic community and the harmony of the whole society. “We must walk together,” said Cardinal Parolin in an interview with the Global Times, “because only in this way can we heal the wounds and misunderstandings of the past, to show the world that even from distant positions fruitful agreements can be reached.”
Religious development in China that is sustainable
After China’s reform and opening-up policy was enacted, Catholicism had rapid and consistent growth. Because of its lengthy history, broad territories, and numerous population foundations, China has developed a diverse religious environment. There are roughly 200 million religious individuals in China, including approximately 6 million Catholic believers and approximately 8,000 religious faculty members.
Furthermore, there are around 38 million Christian believers and approximately 57,000 religious faculty members. On the mainland, there are 98 Catholic Diocelle and almost 6,000 churches and activity halls. Catholicism’s missionary activities in mainland China are likewise expanding.
China has printed over 100 languages and 160 million Bibles for over 100 countries and regions. The Chinese church printed 80 million copies of Chinese and 11 ethnic characters. Many religious organizations and venues now have websites. The religious education system is always being enhanced.
As of September 2017, the China State Bureau of Religious Affairs had approved 91 religious schools and institutions, including 9 Catholic colleges and 21 Christian colleges. Catholicism’s teaching was also refined and broadened.
Furthermore, the administration and growth of Catholicism are standardized. Religious organizations and religious venues use the national unified taxation system, pay taxes in compliance with relevant national legislation, and benefit from tax breaks; infrastructure and public services also cover the location of religious activities.
China encourages religions to modernize, adapt to socialist society, and contribute to promoting economic progress, social harmony, cultural prosperity, and national unity. In the long history, different religions have been introduced into China, and there are few conflicts and confrontations with religion as the background, which is very rare.
The variety of religious views and worldwide religious interactions have both been acknowledged at the same time. The Chinese religious community has developed friendly ties with religious groups in more than 80 countries in order to take part actively in conferences that are connected to religion on the principles of independence, equality, friendliness, and mutual respect and the level of religious freedom is rising.
Catholic communities in China will organizing prayers, novenas and festivities leading up to the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. Some prayer encounters which included non-Christian participants will also hold. Some events included a special prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan, Our Lady Help of Christians, asking that she come to the aid of all Christians and protect China, allowing for an abundant flourishing of the evangelisation effort.
The China-Zentrum e.V.