|Theology on Tap Does China|
|Written by Sherry|
|Friday, 23 March 2007 05:51|
The Roman version of Theology on Tap met last week to hear Raphaela Schmid on the situation and suffering of the Church in China.
"Schmid opened with an insight into the open Church in China, which is government-recognized. This Church is run, to varying degrees, by the Patriotic Association, a state agency. Startled students learned that the head of the Patriotic Association, Liu Bai Nian, is a layman, who while well versed in party rhetoric, gets stumped when asked the name of his favorite saint or devotional reading.
The underground Church remains loyal to the papacy and has refused to allow any state control, especially in the appointment of bishops. As a result, they are not condoned by the state, and in some regions they are persecuted.
"The people I interviewed always wanted to talk about how God entered their lives, they were eager to express how much it meant to them to be Christian," Schmid told the crowd. "Only afterward, when asking directly, would it come out that they had been to prison because of their faith."
"They consider the suffering for their faith secondary to their experience of faith," remarked Schmid. "They never complained or put forward that they had lost jobs or been arrested."
The lay people aren't the only ones who face difficult conditions. The precious and few priests in the area demonstrate heroic virtue as they cover huge distances to tend to their flocks. One priest, recounted Schmid, when asked where he lived, announced that he had "23 rooms." She later discovered that in fact he had no house of his own. He rode his old motorbike to the 23 villages that make up his parish, staying with Catholic families in the poorest conditions.
These stories became all the more poignant because as Schmid probed what drove these people to be willing to endure hardship, she discovered that they were keen to know how Catholics live in the West. "