Catholic Association Beijing Division to use Foreign Priests at Olympics

( [email protected] ) Jul 25, 2008 09:36 AM EDT

Spectators to the Beijing Olympics will be able to attend masses held in their own languages. Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association Beijing Division will be using foreign priests to provide multi-lingual masses, according to China’s State media.

On Tues., Yu, staff member of foreign affairs office of the CPCA Beijing Division, said that the main Catholic Church in Beijing will hold mass in French, Italian, and German.

In addition, among 17 clerical staff were six priests who had studied abroad and could speak English, Italian, Korean, and French, said Yu. They will attend mass and hear confessions in the village throughout the Olympic period.

At the same time, Rev. Xu Xiaohong, an official of the Shanghai-based China Christian Council in charge of publishing, said that a 16-person Protestant volunteer group, consisting of ministers and students from theological colleges, would provide religious-related services to believers in the village during the Games.

The services include attending ordinary religious activities, simple interpretation works and guiding the way to churches in downtown Beijing, among others, reported on Xinhua.

Furthermore, an additional 50,000 copies of bilingual (Chinese and English) New Testaments would be printed, said Xu. 10,000 copies of bilingual new international version of the Bible would be available to the athletes and supporting staff.

According to China’s state media, a total of 110,000 scriptures will be available in the main churches in Beijing and the six co-host cities and the Olympic Village, and people can keep them for their own use at any time.

However, in contrast to the reports of religious tolerance in China, news of persecution of house church leaders were reported. Last week, it was informed that the chairman of the Federation House Church and his wife were forced this month to live on the streets after Chinese authorities repeatedly forced them out of shelters.

In China, the government monitors the printing of religious literature, including the Bible. The government also overseas religious worship and allows people of faith to hold gatherings only in state-sanctioned religious facilities.

Protestant Christians are only allowed to worship in registered churches under the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, although millions of Christians attend unregistered house churches at the risk of being arrested.