Scheut Missions priest Fr Jeroom Heyndrickx. File photo: UCANEWS.COM

Catholics visiting China can attend Mass as well as receive the Sacraments in either the “underground” or “open” Catholic Church communities, said Fr Henry Siew.

Both communities share the same faith and pray for the pope, he added.

Fr Siew made this point at a talk titled The Catholic Church in China – What We in Singapore Can Do, held at the Church of Sts Peter and Paul on May 11.

He also spoke briefly on the history of the China Church and its recent developments.

Another of the evening’s speakers, Scheut Missions priest Fr Jeroom Heyndrickx, said that the China Church is experiencing growth with an increase in churches, Religious, seminarians and faithful despite the division that exists between the “underground” and “open” Church communities.

The Belgian priest, who is based in Taiwan and who has made frequent trips to China since 1982, said cooperation between the Singapore and China Churches in areas such as Marriage Encounter and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults had helped the Chinese gain a greater understanding of the Church in Singapore.

The challenge for the Singapore Church today is how its faithful can interact with the Church in China, he added.

The Singapore Church with its enthusiasm, vibrancy and informed faithful can help build friendship and relations with the Catholic Church in China, he said.

Fr Heyndrickx suggested that Catholics visiting China on sightseeing trips could include in their itinerary a side trip to churches, acquaint themselves with the clergy and congregation, and participate in liturgical celebrations.

One can obtain information about the churches in China with the help of a booklet the Scheut Missions had written, called Ambassadors for Christ to China, he said. Fr Heyndrickx also advised making spiritual preparation before going on such a pilgrimage.

Meanwhile, Fr Siew said it is important to adopt a balanced approach to news and information about the China Church.

He also advised not to focus too much on the division within the China Church but rather concentrate on offering pastoral help to China’s Catholics.

Fr Siew noted that parishes such as Church of Sts Peter and Paul, Church of St Michael and Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary have groups providing assistance to and spiritual activities for Chinese migrant workers.

He encouraged Catholics in their parishes to observe the needs of migrant workers and to take the initiative to share the faith with them.

About 120 people attended the hour-and-a-half forum. Some China Catholics were among them.

By Darren Boon
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