Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - The civil authorities of Inner Mongolia, where anti Covid measures are still very strict and all places of worship are closed, have granted the extraordinary opening of the church for the Christmas celebration. According to the Catholic publishing house "Faith" based in Hebei, this happened in the Dongtang parish in the diocese of Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. The Catholic faithful were able to celebrate the solemn Eucharist on December 24th, thanks to the collaboration of the faithful with the volunteers who checked the booking on their mobile phones, the vaccination certificate and the temperature at the entrance to the church and divided the faithful into different groups.
During the homily, Fr Barisu, the parish priest of Dongtang emphasized: "Christmas is a great celebration of humanity, but above all it is a celebration of gratitude. Only when we live in gratitude can each of us enjoy our spiritual life to the fullest". The Catholic faithful of this community also experienced Christmas under the sign of solidarity: Since the places in the church were limited due to the pandemic, the adults left their place to the elderly and the youngest.
From the urban centers to the most remote communities, Catholics in mainland China celebrated the birth of the Lord in communion with the universal Church and, as in all parts of the world, in strict compliance with anti-Covid-19 measures. Many Catholics were able to pray and meditate in front of the manger set up in the church and, as the parish priests recommended, "take a little manger with them in their hearts in which the baby Jesus is always present".
In the Beijing Seminary Church, parishioners also celebrated the admission of four newly baptized persons over the Christmas season. While Bishop Joseph Shen Bin von Haimen (Nantong, Jiangsu Province) celebrated Christmas mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the Sacred Heart Cathedral. He encouraged believers to continue strengthening their faith, because "Christmas is about learning to give, not just receiving, doing our best to help the weak and needy, and practicing our faith". He also hoped that "Catholics will take more care of the Church, cultivate the Christian life of faith in families and thereby contribute to the harmony and stability of society". The bishops of the dioceses of Guangzhou, Jiangmen, Meizhou, Zhanjiang and Shantou in Guangdong Province also celebrated Christmas under the banner of measures to contain the pandemic. In the eight parishes of the Archdiocese of Guangzhou, a total of 16 masses were celebrated in Chinese, English and Korean from December 24th to 25th in order to meet the needs of Korean guest workers and immigrants from different countries. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 4/1/2022)