World Day of Prayer for China to be held on May 24
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.- Pope Benedict XVI has specially composed a Marian prayer for the World Day of Prayer for China, a day which the head of an international Catholic charity has said should not be allowed to “pass by unnoticed.” 

The World Day of Prayer for China is scheduled for Saturday, which is the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians.  For the day of prayer, Pope Benedict XVI specially composed a prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan, whose image is greatly revered by Chinese Catholics.

Pope Benedict’s prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan closes, “Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.  Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and forever. Amen!"

Father Joaquín Alliende, the president designate of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) praised Saturday’s World Day of Prayer for China.  He said the Holy Father’s action shows that the Pope, “by virtue of his universal office and as the father of Christianity, has a view of the whole picture.” 

The priest said that Benedict XVI’s composition of a prayer for the Church in China, which he noted has long been a suffering member of the Church, shows that this flock is especially close to the Holy Father’s heart.

Father Alliende said he hoped that the day of prayer will enable the country to become a “new Cana” and to echo the event where the Virgin Mary “anticipated the hour of Jesus” and proved herself to be the “best of advocates.”

He said that China is a great and important land that will significantly contribute to the future of mankind.  However, he noted the suffering of Christians in China and said it must not be forgotten.

Despite all its difficulties, Father Alliende said, Christianity in China truly has a future.  While Communism has led to an “absence of meaning,” the priest said that the growth of the Church there is a sign that people in China are seeking answers not only in the Catholic Church but also in other Christian churches and communions.

Even though he welcomed world attention on China as the Beijing Olympic Games approach, Father Alliende warned that China’s problems would continue even after the games end.

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