Vatican City, May 22, 2022 (Ecclesia) – The Pope today asked for prayers for Catholics in China, who this Tuesday will celebrate the feast of Mary Help of Christians, asking for “freedom and tranquility” for the communities of the Asian country.
“May the Church in China, in freedom and tranquility, live in effective communion with the universal Church and exercise its mission of proclaiming the Gospel to all, thus also offering a positive contribution to the spiritual and material progress of society”, he said. , after the recitation of the ‘Regina Coeli’ prayer, before thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
The intervention evoked the feast of the patron saint of China, particularly celebrated at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan, near Shanghai, addressing the country’s Catholics.
“I renew to them the certainty of my spiritual closeness. I follow with attention and participation the life and vicissitudes of the faithful and pastors, which are often complex, and I pray for them every day,” Francis said.
This May, police detained Cardinal Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, on charges of “collusion with foreign forces” as administrator of a fund to support pro-democracy protesters in legal and health care costs.
The detention of the Catholic official, later released on bail, was the subject of redress by the Vatican.
“The Holy See has learned with concern about the news of the arrest of Cardinal Zen and is following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention”, said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, in response to questions from journalists.
In September 2018, Beijing and the Holy See signed an agreement on the appointment of Catholic bishops, renewed in 2020.
This unprecedented document aims to regularize the status of the Catholic Church in this country; Beijing requires priests and bishops to officially register with civil authorities.
Diplomatic relations between China and the Holy See ended in 1951 after the expulsion of all foreign missionaries, many of whom took refuge in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
In 1952, Pope Pius XII refused the creation of a Chinese Church, separate from the Holy See [Chinese Patriotic Association, APC] and then formally recognized the independence of Taiwan, where the Apostolic Nuncio (Ambassador of the Holy See) was established. after the expulsion from China.
The APC would be created in 1957 to avoid “foreign interference”, especially from the Holy See, and to ensure that Catholics lived in accordance with State policies, thus leaving the faithful who recognized the direct authority of the Pope underground.