CATHOLIC missionaries in China—where in 1946 the Catholic community numbered three and a half million — have been reduced by persecution over the past eight years from 5,430 to only 207, according to the latest estimates.
A counter-offensive has been launched by Bishop Van Melckebeke, expelled from his See of Ningsia in Mongolia two years ago, who travels the vast territories of South-East Asia where 12 million emigrant and expatriated Chinese are scattered over eight countries. In many of these localities the exiled Chinese amount to half. and often to a much larger proportion, of the total population.
The new China
In addition to the evangelisation of this huge "diaspora" with the aid of expelled Chinese priests whom he sends to key points all over these areas, the Bishop labours to keep Christian thought alive in China itself and to maintain the faith and courage of the persecuted Catholics who remain there behind the Bamboo Curtain.
From the Central Office of the Press in Singapore he distributes Catholic newspapers in Chinese, English and French to the Chinese peoples in their own country and in all the other Asian territories within the scope of his activity, and has arranged radio broadcasts to China to counteract the anti-religious propaganda of the Reds.
The Bishop's aim is to build the framework of the China of the future.
Striking news is also reaching England of the power of the Church in the Chinese Nationalist island of Formosa, where the embryo of a "new" China is developing under the presidency of Chiang-Kat-Shek. Before the war Formosa was only a little Prefecture Apostolic. but today has its own Archbishop and ties el;esnwene 'Thorn. ie o &rum:chino
Catholic University and a strong body of missionaries and Chinese priests inspired by the ideal of Christianising the mainland.
A notable expression of Catholic devotion on the island was seen recently in the 2,000-strong procession through the crowded streets of Taipei, the capital, at the climax of the May devotions in honour of Our Lady. Archbishop Riheri. the Papal Internuncio. celebrated Pontifical High Mass afterwards in the grounds of the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Catholics all over the world are being urged to a keener sense of their common interest with the persecuted Church in China by the work of the Union of Prayer for China, 3 movement founded three years ago in Rome by a Chinese student. and approved by the Holy Sec. There are now 400,000 members in 32 countries. but over half of these are in France.
French writers point to U.P.C. as one antidote to the Western world's indifference to Communist persecutions of the Church, and the socalled "conspiracy of silence" among Western journalists discussed at last month's centenary celebrations of the C.Y. M.S.