Church, that they might have "the strength and courage" to resist pressure to break off their loyalty to the Vatican, BosNewsLife learned Tuesday, May 9.

The prayer campaign is reportedly deliberately in contrast with what Catholics call "threats and intimidation" allegedly used by the government backed Catholic Patriotic Association to rally support from clerics.

In a statement protesting what it saw as "the illicit ordinations" of bishops in the areas of Kunming and Wuhu, the Vatican noted that "strong pressure and threats" were used to persuade Chinese bishops and priests to participate in these ceremonies, Catholic media reported.

The battle for control over the Catholic Church in Communist-run China was illustrated Sunday, May 7, when Father Paul Pei Junmin was ordained as coadjutor bishop of the Shenyang diocese apparently with the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI.

Besides approval from the pontiff, the government and the "official" Church also recognized the bishop, in an apparent effort to restore relations with the Vatican which had been angered over the ordinations of the two bishops on April 30 and May 3.


The Catholic Patriotic Association has adamantly opposed the Vatican’s claim to authority over the appointment of bishops in China, Catholic Church watchers say.

The Patriotic Association pressed the ordination of bishops without Vatican approval, and Liu Bainian, the vice-president of the group, has said that he plans 20 more such ordinations of bishops in coming months, reported the Vatican affiliated AsiaNews agency.

One leader of the "official" Church was quoted as saying that his priests are being "subjected to enormous pressure" to accept the leadership of the Patriotic Association. "In this moment it is necessary to pray for all priests of the official Church," an underground bishop reportedly said. "It is our duty."


In a petition relayed through AsiaNews, the underground Catholic Church in China has asked the faithful– in that country and around the world– to pray each day until Pentecost "that bishops and priests be given strength and courage in the face of persecution, pressure, and threats that seek to destroy the unity of Chinese Catholics with the Pope."

Government statistics reportedly say there are four million Catholics in China, but church organizations and Western academics claim up to ten million is a more reliable figure. Open Doors, a Christian rights watchdog, estimates there are up to 80 million Christians in China, most of whom are gathering in unofficial house churches.

Chines officials have denied human rights abused, saying Christians are free to worship in the official denominations, (With reports from China and BosNewsLife Research)


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