Msgr. Vincenzo Guo Xijin, former ordinary bishop of Mindong (Fujian) is now homeless and sleeping on the doorstep of his curia and clergy house in Luojiang, following the arrival yesterday of an eviction order for him and for the priests who work and live with him. The police operation is a sign of official annoyance and an attempt to pressure the bishop and his priests who refuse to sign up to an “independent” Church.
However, Msgr. Guo, never signed up for membership in the independent Church and thus has not been recognized by the government with the result that he has now been downgraded to the status of homeless and migrant.
At least 20 priests out of 57 do not want to sign. They say the signature “is only the beginning of greater persecution and control”, which tends to make priests “party officials” who agree not to evangelize young people under the age of 18 – which runs contrary to the Chinese Constitution – and subjecting every initiative of evangelization to the supremacy of the Communist Party.
The day’s Gospel tells how a leper approached Jesus, saying “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean”. In his homily, Pope Francis said that the leper’s request is a simple prayer, “an act of confidence” — but at the same time, “a true challenge”. It is plea that comes from the depths of his heart, which also reveals something about Jesus and His compassion for us. Jesus, the Pope said, suffers “with and for us”, He takes the suffering of others upon Himself, comforting them and healing them in the name the love of the Father.
Reflecting on the “simple” story of the healing of the leper, Pope Francis said that the phrase, “If you will…” is a prayer that “gets God’s attention”. “It is a challenge”, he said, “but also an act of confidence: I know that He can do it, and so I entrust myself to Him”.
The number of Catholics in South Korea has steadily increased 48.6 percent from 3,946,844 in 1999 to 5,866,510 in 2018. However, the year-to-year growth rate in Catholics has gradually slowed to below 1 percent. In 2000 and 2001, the Catholic population grew 3.2 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively, before falling to the 2 percent range until 2009. The growth rate dropped to 1.7 percent in 2010 and briefly rebounded to 2.2 percent in 2014 due to Pope Francis’ visit to South Korea. But it again dived below 1 percent to reach 0.9 percent two years ago.
The ratio of Catholics in the nation’s total population rose from 8.3 percent to 11.1 percent in the 1999-2018 period. But their mass attendance rate, considered a key indicator of existing believers’ religious life, tumbled by more than 10 percentage points from 29.5 percent to 18.3 percent during the period.