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Tracing liturgical development in China

HONG KONG (SE): Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei province in mainland China, hosted a Forum on Liturgy and Inculturation organised by the Faith Institute for Cultural Studies from November 16 to 18, for around 80 laypeople, bishops, priests, religious and academics, as well as leaders of 10 major seminaries.

The seminar retraced the last 20 years of development and formation in the liturgy, as well as the way in which it has been inculturated in the Church in China.

Thirty experts in the liturgy gave input at the seminar. The honorary president of the Faith Institute for Cultural Studies, Bishop J. B. Xiao Ting, stressed multiplicity, inculturation, the pastoral dimension and overall accessibility of the liturgy to the faithful in his welcoming speech.

The director of the institute, Father John Baptist Zhang, gave an outline of the progress China has made over the past 20 years in implementing the spirit of Vatican II in the liturgy and bringing the Church in China into communion with the universal Church.

Fides quoted him as saying, “From 1991, when the Continental Catholic Community sent its first priest to The Philippines to study liturgy, through to November 15 this year, 21 priests, plus one religious, all Chinese, have studied abroad.”

He gave a breakdown of their academic pursuits explaining that seven went to the United States of America, four to Italy and Germany, three to The Philippines and one to Switzerland. “Two have gone elsewhere,” he added. “One has received a doctorate in liturgy and eight others are still completing their studies.

He noted that eight of the international graduates were present at the forum in Hebei.

However, Father Zhang went on to say that there are still imbalances in the programme, as lay people are not represented and only one religious sister is included among their number.

“So the statistic in itself is a reminder of the state of liturgical formation of the laity,” Father Zhang commented.

He added that in the last 20 years, 133 liturgical texts have been published in China, saying that eight categories are represented; missals and liturgical manuals for the administration of the sacraments (33), principals of the liturgy (27), scriptural exegesis (29), dictionaries and liturgical manuals (10), liturgical prayers (27), weekly liturgical spirituality (2), calendars (5) and others of sacred songs.

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