Skip to comments.Word of Pope John Paul II's death spread slowly Sunday through China's capital
Posted on 04/02/2005 9:27:30 PM PST by TheOtherOne
BEIJING (AP) - Word of Pope John Paul II's death spread slowly Sunday through China's capital, where congregations packed government-sanctioned churches but state-run media released only a trickle of information.
At the Southern Cathedral at Xuan Wu Men, Beijing's largest Roman Catholic Cathedral, believers sang hymns and clasped their hands tightly in prayer, some clutching rosary beads. Others lined up to light red and yellow rose-shaped candles.
The Rev. Sun Shangen announced to his congregation that the pontiff has passed away.
"God has called him to rest in his arms," the priest said. "Today let's keep him in our thoughts during our prayers. Let's pray for God's grace for him to go to heaven soon."
At another church in the Wangfujing shopping district, near Tiananmen Square, many in the congregation crowded around a notice posted outside about the pope's death on Saturday at the Vatican.
"I feel very sad and pained," said Shen Qun, a member of the church. "It's a big event for all the global religions. The world is a complicated place and I hope the new pope will be able to make contributions to world peace while promoting his thoughts."
Another man, Sun Rewang, praised the 84-year-old pope for making "great contributions to mankind and world peace" during his lifetime.
"We will miss him," Sun said.
No official response was issued by the Beijing government, which cut off ties with the Vatican shortly after the officially atheistic communist party took power in 1949. Relations between them have remained strained.
Worship is allowed only in government-controlled churches, though millions of Catholics belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome. The government's Catholic church claims 4 million believers, but the Cardinal Kung Foundation, a U.S.-based religious monitoring group, says the unofficial church has 12 million followers.
In some areas, particularly the politically sensitive capital of Beijing, members are routinely harassed and their leaders arrested.
State television read a brief dispatch announcing the pope's death on its morning news broadcast. State-run newspapers made no mention of event, all making a nationwide tree-planting campaign their top story.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported the death on its domestic Chinese-language service and its English-language world service shortly after 2000 GMT.
Xinhua also said the Catholic Patriotic Association of China and the Chinese Catholic Bishops College sent a telegram to the Vatican expressing "deep condolences."
"It is very sorrowful to know that Pope John Paul II has passed away at the call of God, to rest in Lord for good," Xinhua cited the telegram as saying. "It would be a great loss for the pastoral and evangelical works of the Universal Church."
Chinese Internet sites - tightly monitored by the government for elements it considers subversive - carried the news but provided little detail. Chatrooms were virtually silent about the matter.
On the Web site of the People's Daily newspaper, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, only two postings were found.
"The pope is the most influential person in the world in modern times," read one.
Said the other: "The passing of the pope is the biggest news in the world today. Is discussion allowed?"
It's ironic when the words from commie China Internet forums are similar to those echoed on FR
The commies in China feel fit to limit the discourse of free men . . . that will be their downfall.
Don't think it can't happen here, with hate crime laws, libel suits, etc. Just wait and see.
Yes; the Terripalooza is still quite fresh in my mind.
They would have to jail me to shut me up, and I would still say what I thought. But I agree, once your freedom to speak is taken...you have nothing. That is a future battle ground. We have hit the time when some people, in the name of fairness or rightousness, demand that other free thinking men hold their tongues. (yes PC bullshit and also some other places where dissent or discussion is FRowned upon.) Sad if you ask me.
Is it wise for AP to give their names and the churches they belong to?