.- Pope Benedict XVI has urged Catholics around the world to join him next week in praying for the Church in China.
âAll Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China: those members of the Faithful have a right to our prayers, they need our prayers,â the Pope said May 18.
Speaking at the end of his weekly audience, the Pope reminded pilgrims that May 24 is a global day of prayer for the Church in China. The date marks the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. The Pope established the custom of praying for China on this day back in 2007.
âBy our prayers we can obtain for the Church in China that it remain one, holy and Catholic, faithful and steadfast in doctrine and in ecclesial discipline.â
China has an estimated 8 to 12 million Catholics. They are divided, though, between the state-sanctioned church that sometimes names bishops without the Vaticanâs approval and an underground church wary of government ties.
âChinese Catholics, as they have said many times, want unity with the universal Church, with the Supreme Pastor, with the Successor of Peter,â said the Pope. He added that prayer from others around the world was key to making that happen.
âWe can help them to find the path to keep their faith alive, to keep their hope strong, to keep their love for all people ardent, and to maintain in its integrity the ecclesiology that we have received from the Lord and the Apostles.â
Pope Benedict finished his remarks by asking Mary âto enlighten those who are in doubt, to call back the straying, to console the afflicted, and to strengthen those who are ensnared by the allure of opportunism.â