Pope Benedict Calls for Prayers for China

(Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI made an impassioned appeal today for the universal Church to pray for the faithful of China. “There, as elsewhere, Christ is living out his passion,” the Pope said, adding that “the [Chinese] faithful have a right to our prayers, they need our prayers.”

“We know from the Acts of the Apostles that when Peter was in prison, everyone prayed fervently, and as a result, an angel came to free him. Let us do likewise,” the Holy Father said at the end of today’s general audience. “Let us all pray together intensely for this Church, trusting that by our prayers we can do something very real for her.”

The Pontiff’s appeal came as next Tuesday is the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians. Our Lady under this sign is venerated at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai and Benedict XVI has designated this day as an annual day of prayer for China.

He stated that “all Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China.”

“Chinese Catholics, as they have said many times, want unity with the universal Church, with the Supreme Pastor, with the Successor of Peter,” the Pope affirmed. “By 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. She deserves all our affection.”

The Holy Father acknowledged the plight of bishops in China, “some who suffer and find themselves under pressure in the exercise of their episcopal ministry.”

“To them, to the priests and to all the Catholics who encounter difficulties in the free profession of faith, we express our closeness,” he said. “By our prayers we 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, which has been faithfully transmitted to us right down to the present day.

“By our prayers we can obtain that their wish to remain in the one universal Church will prove stronger than the temptation to follow a path independent of Peter. Prayer can obtain, for them and for us, the joy and the strength to proclaim and to bear witness, with complete candor and without impediment, Jesus Christ crucified and risen, the New Man, the conqueror of sin and death.”

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