Tuesday, April 05, 2005
On this day:

Chinese Catholics Gather to Honor Pope - Many in "Underground" Churches

In his native Poland, Pope John Paul II witnessed firsthand the persecution of the Catholic Church under the Nazis and later under the Communists. So, he would certainly identify with the Chinese Catholics who have been holding secret memorial services in his honor this week, despite the fact that their churches are illegal.

According to this report in the New York Times:

Experts estimate that China has 12 million Catholics, many of them worshipping in "underground" churches that pledge fealty to the Vatican and are banned by the government. In recent weeks, two underground priests have been arrested, according to the Cardinal Kung Foundation, based in Stamford, Conn., which monitors religious persecution in China.

Also worth noting: The eulogy delivered at the "state-sponsored" Church in Beijing "was notable for not mentioning the pope's lifelong fight against Communism," but the priest did mention that "Rome's ties to Taiwan 'make it impossible to improve relations between China and the Vatican.'"

The Vatican is the last European government to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Guess it's no wonder that the Chi-Coms have "hopes for the new pope," huh?

(AP Photo)