Catholics in China who attend government-backed churches are no less loyal to the Pope
Your article “Foreign Catholics put faith in China’s unofficial churches” (June 1) gives the wrong impression about the present situation of the Catholic Church in China.
Catholics, locals or visitors, can at any time attend Catholic services in government-sanctioned “open” churches, with priests appointed by bishops who are in communion with the Pope, whose name is mentioned in every mass.
As I have been attending, and continue to attend, their daily masses in China since 2000, I noticed that priests are always available for hearing confession before every mass and easily mix with us parishioners. Many became friends with me, although I am a foreigner.
It is therefore a mystery to me that there still exists a group of local Catholics who would object to joining me at mass in one of these churches even after the appearance in March 2007 of then Pope Benedict’s letter to the Catholic Church in China: “The lay faithful … must not hesitate to participate in the Eucharist celebrated by Bishops and priests who are in full communion with the successor of Peter and are recognised by the civil authorities.”
What further mystifies me is that this group is invariably indicated as being “loyal to the Pope” or “to Rome” (as in the article), as if their colleagues in open churches, myself included, are not – or are less – loyal to the Pope.
Francis Vrijmoed, Yuen Long