What an inspiring story from China via the always interesting Asia News.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Thousands of people were baptised into the faith in Catholic churches across China on Easter night. Yet in some areas the underground Church is still subjected to persecution and imprisonment.
In Beijing alone during the Easter Vigil, the number of adult baptisms numbered in the thousands! In the Church of Our Holy Saviour (Beitang) there were 180; in St Joseph’s (Dongtang) hundreds and in the Church of St Michael, where the Chinese of Korean origins, hundreds more, added to these, baptisms carried out in the underground Church.
The wave of religious rebirth and conversion to Catholicism is so great that the Christian community is having some difficulty in finding godparents to accompany the new catechumens. In the capital it is almost standard that any one godparent will have at least a dozen newly baptized to follow. The situation is analogues in most of China’s large cities: Shanghai, Xian, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xiamen, Shenzhen…
A priest and seminary professor points out to AsiaNews that contemporary Chinese society is marked by many open wounds: “the materialism of daily life,…. unbridled individualism, which generates selfishness and a lack of interest in other people, the future, the world around us”. The Church continues the priest “answers the silent cries of these people’s hearts, the thirst for God which is spreading throughout China”. Moreover, Christians are showing that “a healthy collaboration between faith and reason improves human life and promotes respect for creation”.
For the most part, the newly baptized tend to come from upper class backgrounds; they are materially wealthy, high level civil servants who despite having secured a comfortable lifestyle for themselves remain unsatisfied. “Only Christianity – one of them notes – has been able to sate my spiritual needs”.
Among those baptised are also University professors and students, people who question the meaning of existence and for whom the myths of Buddhism and Taoism, while fully respectable, have been unable to provide answers to scientific or rational exigencies.
The neo-converts also count the poor and immigrants, young people who have come to the cities from the country, in search of some monetary relief for their families. In the world of Chinese economics they are treated like slaves, underpaid, sometimes even unpaid and forced to work illegally.