Church in Macao Has Lost Privileges, For the Better

So Says Combonian Missionary

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ROME, MAR. 4, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Macao is the “waiting room” for entry into China, but also an experiment for the mission in that enormous country, a Combonian missionary who has spent 10 years in the one-time Portuguese colony.

Father Daniel Cerezo, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire, said that, a year after Macao´s return to China, “everything has changed, although there seems to have been no change.”

“The Church has lost privileges it had under the Portuguese government,” Father Cerezo explained. “This is good, because the Church was identified with the colonial power, thus reflecting the accusations that the Chinese government has always leveled against the Catholic institution.”

However, there still are traces of Macao´s Catholic past. On Jan. 1, executive order No. 60/2000 came into force, which establishes the permanence of six Catholic feasts: Good Friday, Holy Saturday, All Souls Day, the Immaculate Conception, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

“The Catholic population in Macao reaches 20,000 and, in the first year under Chinese sovereignty, it has enjoyed religious liberty similar to past years, without interference from the government, at least explicitly,” the missionary explained. “Likewise, forms of external worship on the streets and processions have been allowed. There has been no verification of the repression that some so feared just a year ago.”

Father Cerezo said that the religious in Macao have two pastoral priorities. “The first is the educational sector, to give the people a human and religious formation,” he said. “Jesuits, Salesians, Canossians and other, Asian congregations have worked for decades in this sector. The second sector refers to charitable and social action, with specific tasks, especially services for the elderly, the mentally ill, and youth centers.”

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