At Sunday morning Mass, the church is overflowing with worshippers. Those that cannot squeeze in sit on benches outside.... The solid-looking brick cathedral, founded in 1605 by Jesuit Matteo Ricci, is the base of newly-appointed Beijing Bishop Father Joseph Li Shan. Father Joseph, whose appointment was approved by the Vatican, is in charge of one of China's main dioceses. It has a flock of at least 50,000 people.A 24-year old teacher attending morning Mass at the Cathedral with two friends said she also attends unofficial, underground Catholic churches in Beijing, often held in people's homes. Pointing to the Southern Cathedral's towering facade, she said:
This kind of church is government-controlled and has no power. The underground church is more traditional."The BBC report quotes a Sister Yu:
"There are many Chinese people who are not Christians, but they go abroad and meet believers who they respect. When they return home they become Christians themselves."At this point in my elderly life, I look back regretfully and wish I had not failed to do [or at least attempt] certain things. One of my most serious failures was to fail to search out and be friendly to Chinese students to whom I had fairly easy access for a number of years. If I had not failed, would there now be two or three more Catholics in China?
Frankly, China is destined to be the number one power in the world within a relatively short time frame. If they remain atheists and persecutors of the Church, I fear for our country and the rest of the world. However, if sufficient Chinese leaders become Christian [and reject their anti-life programs], China could bring great gifts to the world. [See possible example for East Timor.] Especially if intelligent and hard-working Chinese citizens do not become addicted to materialism.
What kind of gifts could China bring to the world? A right order, for example, where freedom does not mean license. A strong sense of family bonds, with a rejection of "free sex". A respect for hard work and loyalty. Indeed, if China were to embrace the ten commandments and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, it could become a truly great world power--perhaps with a lifetime of as much as a thousand years.
In a related International Newsweek story on North Vietnam dated October 1, 2007, South Korean Christian Protestant missionaries are making good headway in North Vietnam. Take a look at this extensive report.