Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Welcome to the China-Macau Bulletin, September 2009

China Turns 60
It is festival time in China. October 1st was the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and celebrated as China’s National Holiday. And this year, the 60th Anniversary is being greeted as if it was the most grandiose affair of the century.

The National Day Parade

The National Day Parade was designated by CPPCC as an important component of the grand ceremony for the founding of P.R.C. From 1949 to 1959, 11 national parades were held on October first, though no national parades were held for the next 24 years. It was not until 1984 that the national parade was resumed by the then Central People's Government at the urging of Comrade Deng Xiaoping on the thirty-fifth National Day of the P.R.C. Since that time, when the anniversary is a multiple of five (e.g. the 50th, 55th, or 60th), large scale state functions may be held such as the inspection of troops in Tiananmen Square. Therefore, there will be a Grand National Day Parade in 2009 for celebrating the 60th anniversary of the funding of P.R.C.
Fireworks Show

Fireworks displays are usually held nationwide in all cities during China's National Day, one of the grandest and most famous being The Hong Kong National Day Fireworks Display held since 1997 in Victoria Harbor. During China's National Day, red lanterns are seen everywhere, especially hanging at the gates of government office buildings as well as all kinds of stores and shops. The red lantern is a symbol of festivity, luck and happiness.
HONG KONG and MACAU Bishops attend Beijing national day celebrations
Bishop Joseph Lai & Bishop John Tong Hon

Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong and Bishop Joseph Lai of Macau have been invited to the Chinese national day celebrations in Beijing, on 1 October 2009.

Bishop John Tong Hon Speaking to UCA News recently, said he hopes the Chinese authorities would start to trust the Church and religion in general. Just as in the past, he called for greater religious freedom and released of the jailed clergy, and said he hopes the Chinese authorities could do more to close the rich-poor gap in the country. He joined 200 dignitaries from Hong Kong who have arrived in Beijing to attend the 60th National Day of the People's Republic of China (PRC) celebrations from Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
Click the following link to read more on the 60th National Day Celebrations of the People's Republic of China:

From Taiwan

Fr. Peter Chao, CMF was invited to the Beijing National Seminary to take a few Classes for the seminarians there and following is an inspiring letter which he recieved from one of his students. The original letter written in Chinese and a few photographs are also reproduced here. Letter from Seminarian Chen Xiangjin to Fr. Peter Chao:

Dear Father Peter,
We are very happy that you went to the Beijing National Seminary to give us some classes -- how interesting they were! We learned a lot and we thank God for meeting you.

This summer I took the books and CDs that you gave us and brought it to Sichuan; good spiritual food you gave us and now all these people are praying for you. Perhaps it was a small gesture for you but it meant so much for us, especially the very poor appreciated your books very much.

I gave catechism during 2 months. People, most of them very poor, came from the villages to attend classes and some have to walk for 6 hours! Some of them have not seen a priest in many years. These people even if baptized know very little about our faith and their education is also very low. They do not know their faith and have difficulties connecting their daily life challenges to their faith.
I am planning to go back again for Chinese New Year. More Catholics will be there because at that time they are coming back for vacation to their villages. I will teach them to know and love Jesus and to live in God's presence.
We also shared your books and CDs with the seminarians and priests at the seminary and they are very thankful to you and pray for you.
I am sending some pictures of the summer class. Remember us and we pray for each other.

Nine Pictures From left to right:

1. Together for catechism class
2. In Shangou - some of them walked for 6 hours to come to class
3. Another group. We used the house of one family for our talks
4.Seminarian Chen Xianjin teaching the Sacraments
5. Beautiful and happy children
6. One class: no table to place the books... very poor children
7. A moment during the "Taize" prayer
8. Bible class in the home of one lay person
9. Old and sick people listening to a homily... no church building there!

Mid-Autumn Festival in China

After an absolutely stunning National Day celebration on 1 October, China continued with its festivities of the Mid-autumn Festival which fell on 3 of October this year. The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, or in Chinese, Zhongqiu Jie is a popular harvest festival celebrated by the Chinese dating back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China’s Shang Dynasty. The festival is the second most important festival to the Spring Festival to Chinese people. Every year, when the festival comes people go home from every corner of the world to meet their family and have dinner with them. It was first called Zhongqiu Jie (literally "Mid-Autumn Festival") in the Zhou Dynasty. It is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or Moon cake Festival.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is usually around late September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. It is a date when the moon is supposedly at its fullest and roundest. The traditional food of this festival is the moon cake, of which there are many different varieties.
Traditionally on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:
• Eating moon cake outside under the moon
• Carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, floating sky lanterns
• Burning incense in reverence to deities
• Planting Mid-Autumn trees
• Fire Dragon Dances
Click here to view a short video presentation and to read more on the Mid-Autumn Festival.

From the Mainland

Top religious affairs leaders shuffled
The director of China's State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), Ye Xiaowen, has been appointed to a new posting with the rank of minister and his deputy named to succeed him. Ye, 59, has been SARA director since 1995, with the governmental rank of vice minister. For his new posting at the Central Institute of the Communist Party of China (CPC), he takes on the titles of party chief and vice president of the political academy for democratic parties and people without party affiliation.

Ye Xiaowen & Wang Zuo'an
His deputy, Wang Zuo'an, 51, succeeds as head of SARA. Wang, who has been the chief official at SARA overseeing the mainland Catholic Church, has contacts among Vatican officials and other foreign Catholics. Kwun believes he will continue to promote development of China-Holy See relations.

The changes were announced on Sept. 16, just ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1. Anthony Lam Sui-ki, senior researcher of Hong Kong Catholic diocese's Holy Spirit Study Centre, opined that Ye's promotion was expected after his long tenure as SARA director. But announcing high-level changes this close to the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, he described as "unusual."

Church observers and a leader of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) said they did not expect the changes to impact on China-Vatican relations, even though SARA has an important role in framing religious policy. Kwun Ping-hung, a Hong Kong-based China Church observer, commented that despite China-Holy See relations having had ups and downs through Ye's 14 years as SARA director, they have stabilized in recent years into a kind of detente. During Ye's tenure, he added, officials from China and Vatican have "made efforts in forming a basic mechanism of regular contact and dialogue."

The CCPA official went on to describe Wang as easy-going, with a good knowledge of the Catholic Church, Protestant church and Buddhism. Wang is an "appropriate successor" to head the SARA, he said.

'Underground' Bishop Yu of Hanzhong dies at 90

A low-key funeral has been held for Bishop Bartholomew Yu Chengti of Hanzhong, Shaanxi province, who died of stomach cancer on Sept. 14 at the age of 90. Only around 1,000 Catholics were allowed to attend the Sept. 17 funeral at the rural church in Yuwang village, the bishop's hometown.

The elderly Vatican-approved bishop had ministered in the "underground" Church community since he was clandestinely ordained a bishop in 1981. He retired in 2003. The Chinese government recognized him only as a priest, and local officials expressed "grave concern" over the funeral, but the diocese insisted on honoring him as a bishop. In the end, officials ordered that each parish send only a few representatives, and did not allow the diocese to publicize the obituary nor invite guests from outside Hanzhong.

Despite this official disapproval, a dozen priests from neighboring dioceses in Shaanxi, Gansu and Sichuan provinces joined Hanzhong diocese's 27 priests to concelebrate the funeral Mass and pay tribute to the highly respected prelate. Bishop Louis Yu Runchen of Hanzhong, who is recognized by the government and in communion with the pope, presided at a requiem Mass in the morning.

Bishop Louis Yu described the late prelate as "enthusiastic" in all aspects. The two bishops had worked together since the 1980s on the formation of priests, the restoration of a convent and Church properties, and the opening of new churches. Catholics from the diocese's "open" and underground communities gradually put aside disputes and achieved reconciliation four years ago, according to Bishop Louis Yu.

A requiem Mass for the late Pope John Paul II in 2005 marked the first occasion that the two bishops and their priests celebrated together. From then, all seven priests ordained by Bishop Bartholomew Yu and 20 priests ordained by Bishop Louis Yu concelebrated Chrism Masses together with both bishops on various occasions including Holy Thursday each year.

News from Hong Kong

The Claretian Associates meet

The Claretian Associates of Hong Kong, who are involved in the publishing of the Christian Community Bible in Chinese had come together in Hong Kong on 19 September. Frs. Rossa and Jojo who came from Macau discussed the progress of the translation and editing work done on the forthcoming Chinese version of the Bible. Fr. Rossa expressed his happiness over the progress of the work and thanked all the Associates for their commitment and dedication to the project. The new version of the Bible is expected to be released in 2010.

When words leave off, music begins

Are we not formed, as notes of music are,
For one another, though dissimilar?

- Percy Bysshe Shelley