Sunday, Solemnity of Christ the King, 25 November 2012, Beijing, China. Only recently the auxiliary bishop of Shanghai bravely announced from the pulpit of Saint Ignatius cathedral that he would no longer subject himself to the leadership of China’s Catholic Patriotic Association. Soon after, he was “escorted” to the Sheshan Catholic Seminary, where is presently on a forced “spiritual retreat” to “reconsider” his affiliation. In addition, the seminary has been closed “until further notice.” China’s Catholics are keenly aware of their situation, and they are also keenly aware of how to respond.
Sitting in the pews during 10:00 am Mass on the Solemnity of Christ the King at Beijing’s largest Catholic church, North Church, the Mass was crowded as usual. An old man sat behind me talking with two younger women; he was discussing the Communist Party and the recent conclusion of the 18th Party Congress. The two women repeated over and over, “Love God and love others; this is Catholicism.” The Pope has called for a “New Evangelization,” and China’s pulpits and church bulletins have every Sunday functioned to exhort Chinese Catholics to “follow the Vatican’s commission and bring others into the Church.” Again, the two women told the old man behind me, “Love God and love others; this is Catholicism. Can you remember this?” He replied, “I’ll remember.” During Communion he went to the priest for a blessing.
As Mass began, and the long procession of acolytes preceded the celebrant, the hymn was intoned: “基督君王，基督胜利，基督统制上天地下 Jesus king, Jesus victor, Jesus rules over heaven and earth.” During the prayers of the faithful, the Church and the Pope were prayed for first, and during the offering of the gifts young children were led to an image of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, where they, in Chinese fashion, bowed three times to express their reverence for the 圣母 Holy Mother. If Christ is not yet King of Communist China, it is not because Chinese Catholics are not trying to make Him so.