Harshly repressed by the government, Catholics in China have been given a beautiful sign of hope. The Beijing cathedral reopened on July 16 after six months of closure, officially because of government measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening of this place of worship was the occasion for a beautiful celebration: 101 people, mainly adults, were baptized, Fides reports.
Joy of the community
“Emotion and joy were evident on their faces and those of the community, but also on those of the catechists, priests, nuns and lay volunteers who accompanied them on their journey of faith during the pandemic, overcoming a thousand difficulties,” reports Fides. Archbishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing told them: “Baptism is not just a ritual, but an inner conversion. Now, pursue a life of authentic faith, clothe yourself with a new spirit and a new identity, that of a Christian…you must be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, embodying Christ and witnessing to our Lord through love and works.”
If this reopening is good news for the Church in China, it does not erase the numerous persecutions, vexations and bullying of which Christians are victims on a daily basis. Bishops and priests imprisoned in secret places without trial, others are forced to pray for the “martyrs” of the Chinese army, rewards continue to be offered by the government for those who denounce religious activities.
The faithful gathered outside the cathedral before dawn. They waited outside for hours – the baptisms were held at five o’clock in the evening – joyfully anticipating the opportunity to resume worship.