CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Mass celebrated for the Church in China on World Day of Prayer

Hong kOng (SE) The bishop of Hong Kong John Cardinal Tong Hon, celebrated a Mass on the evening of May 24, the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Caine Road. The event, attended by around 100 people, was organised by the Justice and Peace Commission.

In his homily, the cardinal remarked that there had been significant growth in the Church in China despite the difficulties it faces. He summarised the situation as, “Wonderful, difficult, possible.”

He said it was wonderful because the number of faithful has grown from around three million in 1949, the year the communists came to power, to around 12 million today. 

Cardinal Tong also observed that the number of religious sisters is up to 5,000 now, with some 4,500 having made their final profession since 1980, just after China opened its doors to the world and practice of religion was restored. 

He also found hope in the around 1,400 seminarians now studying for the priesthood noting that the average age for 90 per cent of priests is between 25 and 50-years-old.

Cardinal Tong pinned the difficulty on the Chinese government wanting to monitor the Church through the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and how the faithful are often placed under much duress.

The cardinal said, however, that there is hope because of our faith in Christ.

The cardinal mentioned a letter from a bishop friend in mainland China who pointed out to him that in every communist country, those in power will try to control the Church through people who are nominally Catholic—in this case the Patriotic Association. 

However, the bishop also noted that compared with the situation only a few decades ago, the present difficulties are lighter.

Cardinal Tong said that, five years after Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the Catholic people in China, the role of the Patriotic Association seems to have lessened and that people are more aware of the importance of faith formation. So there is hope.

Speaking afterward, Patrick Poon Ka-wai, from the Justice and Peace Commission, recalled the time he had spent with the unofficial Church. He said that the bishops are faithful to Rome and do their best to serve, despite the difficulties they face.

Cardinal Tong pinned the difficulty on the Chinese government wanting to monitor the Church through the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and how the faithful are often placed under much duress

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