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The leaves held their breath

Zhang shook hands with me in the guesthouse of the Trappist Abbey in Hong Kong. A real representative of China’s welfare; a belt too much tightened, dividing his obese abdomen in two, and an almost square head and a neck a little too short.

He came from Beijing together with his wife for a long weekend in this abbey. There is a large language barrier between us. At our first acquaintance I understood from his gestures that he wanted to know my nationality. But Holland meant nothing to him.








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Ninety-nine-year old bishop dies

XUZHOU (UCAN): Retired Bishop Thomas Qian Yurong, from the diocese of Xuzhou, eastern Jiangsu, died on March 22 at the age of 99.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1945, he was one of the two surviving self-elected and self-ordained bishops from the 1958 to 1963 era, a period of conflict between the government and the Vatican, before Church activities were banned during the Cultural Revolution, which ran from 1966 through to 1976.

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Pope Francis faces tough road to dialogue with China

TAIPEI (SE): St. Francis of Assisi, from whom Pope Francis seeks the inspiration for his papacy, ran into brick walls in trying to enter into dialogue with Islam. He sent five brothers to Morocco in 1212, but they were murdered.

He tried to go himself, but poor health turned him back. He was also blocked by discord within his own ranks.

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Illicit ordinations on the day of papal inauguration

Kunming (UCAN): Coincidence or not, the illicit ordination of two priests in Yunnan province, China, on March 19, the same day that Pope Francis was installed in the Vatican, has raised hackles in the Holy See.

The renegade Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin, from Kunming, who himself was illicitly ordained as a bishop in 2006, raised new questions about Beijing-Holy See relations when he ordained two priests on the same day that Pope Francis officially began his pontificate.

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The new pope and the Church in China

 

HONG KONG (SE): In welcoming Pope Francis to the Chair of Peter as the leader of the Catholic people of the world, a vicar general from the Hong Kong diocese, Father Michael Yeung Ming-cheung, called on people to pray for him, as he comes to leadership of the Church in extremely difficult times.

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Bishop of the young mourned in Shandong

ZHOUCUN (SE): Bishop Joseph Ma Xuesheng, from the diocese of Zhoucun, in Shandong province of mainland China, died on February 8 just a little bit shy of his 90th birthday, Fides reported on February 22.

Born on 16 September 1923 in the district of Zouping, the late bishop started his vocational path at the local minor seminary.

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World’s biggest Internet prison

HONG KONG (Agencies): “China is the world’s biggest prison of journalists and netizens,” Radio Free Asia said in a new report from Reporters Without Borders on January 30.

“China has one of the world’s worst records on press freedom, with controls on state-run media and netizens showing no signs of abating,” it quoted the report as saying.

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Hong Kong joins China in prayer for Pope Benedict and his successor

HONG KONG (SE): In response to a letter sent by the Vatican secretary of state, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, to all dioceses and religious houses in the world on February 21, passing on a request from Pope Benedict XVI for Catholics everywhere to be with him in prayer during the last days of his pontificate, Hong Kong diocese called people to come together at a Mass offered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on the evening of February 27.

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Fresh initiatives call people back to church

WENZHOU (SE): Witness to faith, a retreat, offering the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation are just some of many initiatives undertaken by Wenzhou diocese, in Zhejiang province, China, to make this Lenten season during the present Year of the Faith a fruitful one for the people.

Articles posted on the diocesan website on February 13 and 14 said that the cathedral parish hosted a two-day Lenten retreat on the theme Consolidating the faith and proclaiming the gospel.

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Surprise and head scratching in China over pope’s resignation

HONG KONG (UCAN): The announcement on February 11 of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, not only came as a surprise to Catholic people in China, but left some scratching their heads.

“Is there a hidden agenda,” a bishop in southern China asked. The middle-aged bishop said that he believes the Communist Party may take a harder line with the Church, as it could consider that it has now defeated the pope. 

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