Aide: Chinese Catholics Love the Pope

Today Is World Day of Prayer for Church in China

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Recalling today's World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, the Vatican spokesman is inviting the faithful to turn to Mary, Help of Christians to beseech aid for Christians there.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi spoke of today's Day of Prayer on the most recent edition of Vatican Television's "Octava Dies."

Benedict XVI reminded the faithful of the World Day after the general audience last week. He said the faithful have a duty to pray for the Church in China, which has a right to our prayers.

"The Pope believes in the force of prayer," Father Lombardi said, noting how he invited the faithful to "do something very real" for the Church in China through prayer.

The spokesman then shared a personal memory: "More than 20 years ago, while I was in China for a few days, after having celebrated the Eucharist with great emotion with some brothers in the inner room of a family's lodging, an elderly priest asked me a question in French: 'How is the health of the Sovereign Pontiff?' Those were years in which the Internet didn't exist and of course the Chinese media didn't speak of the Pope.

"I understood immediately with what fidelity and love Chinese Catholics continued for decades to live and pray in spiritual union with the Pope and the Church of Rome, and I was moved."

Father Lombardi said this is the union about which the Pope speaks, inviting the faithful to cultivate it as well and pray through Mary, Help of Christians, "as she is venerated by the Chinese in the famous Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai."

"Precisely because the situation of the Church in China is marked today by suffering and by pressures contrary to union," Father Lombardi said, "we must pray more intensely."

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On ZENIT's Web page:

Papal appeal: www.zenit.org/article-32605?l=english