Hong Kong Catholics hope to make a pilgrimage to Shanghai on the day next May that Pope Benedict has urged the faithful to pray for the church in China. The Pope made the appeal for prayers on May 24 in his pastoral letter to Chinese Catholics, issued last month. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, head of the Hong Kong diocese, said pilgrims would be asked to take a copy of Pope's letter along. He hoped more than 1,000 would join the pilgrimage to the Sheshan Basilica. He was speaking after a question-and- answer session with Catholics last night. 'I am seriously considering organising a large-scale pilgrimage, since we are so close to Shanghai. I have to see whether [the mainland authorities] will agree. They should welcome it,' Cardinal Zen said. In his letter, the Pope called for reconciliation between the state-recognised and underground Catholic communities on the mainland. He said the church's feast day of Mary, Help of Christians, which falls on May 24 each year, should be dedicated to a day of prayers for China. Bishop Zen said Catholics worldwide should pray with their Chinese brethren, who traditionally paid respects to Mary in the Sheshan Basilica on that day. The Hong Kong diocese has yet to make a proposal to the mainland. If such a pilgrimage is approved, it would be the first such large-scale cross-border religious exchange. The diocese has printed more than 30,000 copies of the Pope's letter in simplified Chinese characters and has also printed copies in traditional Chinese characters. Cardinal Zen urged the faithful to take them to Catholics, especially priests, on the mainland if they joined the pilgrimage, in order to help ensure the Pope's message reached its intended audience. Since the letter's publication last month, many mainland websites carrying the full version of the letter have been repeatedly blocked or have had their content removed. Despite efforts by some mainland Catholics to print and circulate the letter, copies are still scarce.