High-minded Catholics around the world echo Cardinal Charles Bo’s whistleblowing statements on China’s religious persecution.
Newsroom (25/06/2022 4:49 PM, Gaudium Press) GlobalPrayerforChina.org is organizing the third annual “Global Week of Prayer for China” in response to the explicit instruction of the Myanmar prelate.
“On 24 May the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China and the Feast of Mary Help of Christians and, for China, Our Mother of Sheshan,” said Bo, President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in a 2022 statement. “Last year I called for this to be turned into a Week of Prayer each year, and I was heartened when a group of lay Catholics around the world took up my invitation and established the Global Week of Prayer for China.”
The Holy See-sanctioned global prayer campaign is taking place the week of May 21-28 and will pray for marginalised Christians and other persecuted religious minorities in China.
The arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen and Hong Kong’s fast-paced track to communist politics were the impetus for Bo’s heightened urging of prayer for China.
“To see a city that was a beacon for freedom, including religious freedom, move so radically and swiftly down a much darker and more repressive path is heartbreaking. To see a government in China break its promises made in an international treaty, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, so repeatedly and blatantly, is appalling.”
“I urge Christians of all traditions everywhere to pray for Hong Kong especially, and the Church in China, as well as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and others facing persecution in China, during that Week of prayer,” Bo encouraged.
The prayer for China campaign’s online forum, which has identified itself as an “informal network of Catholic legislators from around the world”, expresses serious concern about religious freedom suppression in China.
“We are alarmed and aggrieved by the oppression and persecution of China’s Christians and other religious minorities, some of whom are even suffering genocide. We pray for the government of China to govern with respect for universal and immutable human dignity and freedom of conscience and religion,” continued the Catholic lawmakers.
China’s poor track record on religious persecutions
China bears a long history of religious persecutions, which has been recently intensified under President Xi Jinping’s all-encompassing “sinicization” philosophy which directs religious communities to “adapt to socialist society”.
In March 2023 the Catholic News Agency reported that parents at a Wenzhou school in the Zhejiang province were compelled to sign pledges that affirm “they are not religious”.
In April of this year, Fr. Xie Tianming – an underground Catholic priest in the eastward Chinese district of Baoding – reportedly went missing to go through “guǎn zhì”, a form of re-education which trains priests to become loyal to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It is unclear whether Fr. Xie Tianming was forced to undergo “guǎn zhì” or chose a path of loyalty to the CCP from his free will.
Canadian politicians support prayer campaign
Meanwhile, Canadian Member of Parliament Garnett Genuis, who represents the riding of Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, believes that global prayer for China is a good avenue for positive change.
“It is demonstrably important to give a hand to persecuted peoples, religious groups, and minorities. The communist regime in Beijing has an egregious track record of human rights injustices towards people of faith. This campaign will signal the need for action in response to injustices we’re seeing” he said.
By: Angelica Vecchiato