Breaking news from China reveals that authorities are clamping down on Roman Catholics who wish to worship at a Marian shrine during the month of May. The xenophobic Chinese leaders fear Christians mingling together for worship because they are afraid that it might lead to protests.
Here’s what Bernardo Cervella had to write in yesterday’s edition of Spero News
There is a subtle war underway against pilgrimages to the Marian shrine of Sheshan, the national Chinese shrine that is typically visited during the month of May. The war is being waged by the government and by the Patriotic Association (PA). Both “recommend” (meaning: order) that people not visit Sheshan for the entire month of May.
The government cites safety problems, while the PA does not give any reason, but wants to block any mingling among official and underground Catholics, who meet each other every year at the shrine, above all on May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, to whom the church of Sheshan is dedicated. Moreover, this year Benedict XVI has asked Chinese Catholics to celebrate May 24 as a Day of Prayer for the Church in China, praying for its unity and for its persecutors (cf. Letter to the Chinese Catholics, no. 19).
For the entire month of May, the local government of Shanghai has placed restrictions on traffic and the movement of the faithful on the roads to Sheshan, about 50 kilometres southwest of the city.
According to reports sent to AsiaNews, the authorities have also asked the various dioceses, especially Shanghai, Wenzhou, Ningbo – the dioceses closest to the shrine – not to go on pilgrimage this month.