ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
Updated: May 22, 2013 10:12 PM GMT
Pope Francis greets pilgrims from China during a general audience in April
Pope Francis has urged all Catholics around the world to join in prayer with the people in China today, Friday, May 24. This is the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, declared by his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2007.
Speaking on Wednesday at his general audience in St Peter’s Square, the pope called for prayers for China’s Catholics to be faithful to the Church and the Successor of Peter and “to live everyday life in service to their country and their fellow citizens in a way that is consistent with the faith they profess.”
He then recited some words of the Prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan, written by Pope Benedict for the first prayer day in 2008. Its Chinese version is recited every year at the Minor Basilica of St Mary at the hilltop of the Sheshan pilgrimage site in Shanghai, as well as elsewhere in and outside China.
Finally, Pope Francis asked the Blessed Mother to “support Chinese Catholics, render their commitments, which are not easy, more and more precious in the eyes of the Lord, and nurture the affection and the participation of the Church in China in the journey of the Universal Church.”
This was the first public message of Pope Francis to the Church in China since his installation. On April 21, he called for prayers for those who died and suffered from an earthquake in southwestern China happened a day before.
Meanwhile, a booklet entitled Strong In Tribulation, Constant In Prayer has been released in Italy to offer a prayer vigil on the special day. As Agenzia Fides reported on Tuesday, the booklet includes important insights on the history and life of the Church in China, with some moving testimonies of faith. Published by Editrice Missionaria Italiana, the booklet is edited by Gerolamo Fazzini, editorial director of Mondo e Missione, and Father Angelo Lazzarotto, a PIME missionary with a long history of relations with China.
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