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“The Church on Trial in Mao’s China” Published

ICC Note:

The introduction to Fr. Angelo Lazzarotto’s latest work on the lives of missionaries in Henan and the impact of Maoism and its persecution against foreign clergy and the local Catholic community.


1/14/09 China (AsiaNews) On October 24, 2001, in a message to participants at the international conference “Matteo Ricci: for a dialogue between China and the West,” Pope John Paul II wrote as follows: “The Church must not be afraid of historical truth and she is ready – with deeply-felt pain – to admit the responsibility of her children. This is true also with regard to her relationship, past and present, with the Chinese people.

I believe that this valuable work by Fr. Angelo Lazzarotto, PIME, can and should be read in this perspective. This is, in fact, an historic exploration of the human, religious, and evangelizing experience of a group of Italian missionaries of the PIME (according to the numbers provided, during that time the PIME had 153 missionaries in China, of whom 5 were bishops, 139 priests, and 9 lay brothers) in the rural province of Henan, situated in the heart of China.

Fr. Lazzarotto’s calm and careful consideration of the historical journey of these communities and their pastors emphasizes how the proclamation of the Word took place among many sufferings arising from various situations, certainly not dependent on the Church itself or on its leaders.

The various human-religious-ecclesial situations of those involved emerge. As Pope John Paul II wrote to a Chinese Catholic: “our tree has lost many leaves in the storm”; but it is also true that there have been many more heroic testimonies to faithfulness to Christ, to the Church, and to the successor of Peter. In many cases, these were silent heroes who followed Christ crucified and by their actions made it possible for the Church to take root in Chinese soil.

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