10/18/2004, 00.00
CHINA
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Pilgrimage for the Year of the Eucharist and the Pope

Beijing (AsiaNews) – For the start of the Year of the Eucharist Chinese Catholics are organising pilgrimages to the country's various Marian shrines.

The faithful have been reading and following the Pope's Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine (Stay with us, Lord) despite the government's attempts to prevent relations between the Chinese Church and the Holy Father.  The pilgrimages enable believers to be instructed in how to recite the Rosary and how to perform the Eucharistic adoration.

On October 16, more than 200 members of the St Saviour (Bei Tang) parish in Beijing organised a pilgrimage to the nearby Yan Qing shrine in the hills around China's capital. A woman who took part in the event told AsiaNews that "the Rosary has an important meaning for us. Our Lady has always been our spiritual anchor. She has always been with us and supported us in these difficult years". And since October 16 was the anniversary of the Pope's election all the faithful wanted to pray for him.

"Sometime we feel the rest of the Universal Church forgets about the Chinese Church," a priest said to AsiaNews. "Remembering the Pope, who loves China so much, is an act of obedience and a great consolation. This pilgrimage is a way to be with the Pope and the Universal Church. It is also a way not to feel alone since we know the Pope loves us".

Since Mao Zedong, all Chinese leaders have claimed the right to control the internal affairs of the Church through the Patriotic association, appointing the bishops and jailing those who refuse their total control.  But the attempt to create a national Church separate from Rome failed long time ago. More 80 per cent of the government-appointed bishops have in fact joined the Roman fold. More importantly, ties between the official (government-recognised) and the unofficial (or underground) Church are getting stronger despite the fact that the latter is still seen as an unlawful organisation. (AZ)

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