.- The Diocese of Hong Kong will baptize an astounding 2,400 catechumens during this year’s Easter vigil, leaving some wondering if this isn’t a record of sorts.
During the scrutiny with the catechumens March 19, which precedes the baptism, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun (who was elevated to the College of Cardinals less than one week later) likened the Church to a big family, reported AsiaNews.
Once candidates are baptized, they will share in the joys and sorrows of the faithful, the bishop of Hong Kong reportedly said before the packed church of St. Francis of Assisi.
“Being a catechumen is somewhat like going through a period of courtship. With baptism at Easter, it is like getting married to the Church after which, through their parishes, those who have been baptized become members of the Hong Kong diocese and members of the universal Church; the Body of Christ,” he reportedly said.
Despite the growth of Catholicism in China, relations between the Vatican and the communist country remain tenuous. The Vatican wants to improve relations with China but China has insisted the Holy See must first break ties with Taiwan.
The Vatican is currently exploring ways to better serve Catholics in China, where a government-sponsored Church discourages the faithful -- sometimes violently -- from adhering to the Pope.
A large underground Church, faithful to the Pope, exists as well, but experts say its religious liberties are being trampled by government.
Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intention for April is that the Church in China “may carry out its evangelizing mission serenely and in full freedom." He has expressed interest in visiting China, but said the timing is up to God.
Cardinal Zen has been on record for having encouraged Catholics in China to “be patient” as they wait for religious freedom.