Our obligation is to pray for China
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
Pope Benedict XVI announced the Day of Prayer for the Church in China in his Letter to Chinese Catholics on 27 May 2007. He asked that the liturgical feast of Mary Help of Christians, venerated with great piety in the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai, to become an occasion for Catholics all over the world to unite in prayer with the Church in China. This year we also prayed for the intentions of the Chinese Church on 24 May. Blessed John Paul II, who cared for the situation of Christians in Asia very much, prayed for the Asian Church. China is a nation with great history, culture, with over one billion people although the Chinese government has conducted a policy of birth control for years.
Most Chinese people are pagan. They do not know Christianity to the extent one can expect. Several years ago the editorial board of 'Niedziela' had a visit of some Chinese journalists who served the present regime - communism. When during the meeting I mentioned Christ they did not show any interests in him.
Jesus is unknown in China. Naturally, we have missionaries who are working in China. There were also missionaries who died as martyrs of Christian faith there. Nevertheless, China is not Christian. But there are Christians there; there are Catholics there, and therefore, the Catholic Church in China is the concern of Benedict XVI.
This Church is divided: there are bishops connected with the Apostolic See, who are faithful to it and they are persecuted by the Chinese authorities. They are the so-called underground Church: bishops and priests as well as laymen are often arrested and held in prison ruthlessly. Many a time we can hear about a bishop or priest who suffered and died in China. Whereas the bishops and priests who are recognised by the Chinese authorities, collaborating with the communist government but without any relationships with the Vatican, can work without any obstacles.
The Apostolic See is opening to China - they are a big nation, have great culture. People are hungry for God but not the one proposed by Confucius. The Christian God is personal, God of love, the One who gives man salvation, the One who gives love. Pagan nations, including the Chinese, are waiting for such a God.
Today the proclamation of the Good News is easier because one can do it through the Internet, too. The Chinese authorities, still communist, can make it difficult but the electronic way of proclamation makes it possible to reach numerous people. Besides, the Chinese are going beyond the Chinese wall, they are visiting many European countries; one can meet them all over the world. We can also meet them in Poland where they are working and studying. Therefore, we can show them Christ and the Good News. Perhaps we should learn Chinese and reach the hearts of the Chinese people? It is a great mission Poles are to realise for the Chinese. We should care for them and conduct spiritual pastoral ministry for the Chinese nation.
China is a leading economic power in the world but the Chinese are still ruled by the communists who opt for atheism. We do not know why they do it. Perhaps Lord God will give them the grace of conversion so that the Chinese can see the face of Christ. He will be the most wonderful and beautiful Saviour for them.
'Agenda liturgiczna' [Liturgical Agenda], published by the Library of 'Niedziela,' includes 'Prayer for China.' Let us recite this prayer during our June services: 'Virgin, Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title 'Help of Christians', the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection. We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens. […] Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built. Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen. (Benedict XVI).