China Opens Its Mind For Guests

China has taken baby steps towards opening to the rest of the world. It starts with respecting and encouraging other religious beliefs through funding Church restorations.

Beijing's main religious venues are making preparations to offer better service during the August Olympiad when the city is expected to see an unprecedented influx of foreigners. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing, known as Nantang to locals, has been refurbished to embrace religious followers from the world over. "Beijing Administration for Religious Affairs allocated a special fund for renovation of the church because of the Olympics being held in the city," said Father Han Wensheng at the cathedral. "There are new floor tiles in the west courtyard, as well as a new wall and revamped chairs." The Roman Catholic Church, whose foundation was established by Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci in 1605, is Beijing's oldest Catholic church. It is possibly the best known to foreigners as it has an English-language mass each Sunday that usually attracts 800 people.

Han said the cathedral had set up a foreign affairs group and was training volunteers in English and etiquette to better serve foreign Catholics. Other catholic churches also offer masses in such languages as Italian, Korean and French. The Beijing parish of the Catholic Church has recruited 17 volunteers to serve at the multi-faith religious worship center in the Olympic Village, including six priests, five nuns and six monks. The Gangwashi church, established in 1922 and rebuilt in 2004, has emptied its front courtyard for the creation of a small square and decorated its door. It has prepared 50 multilingual interpretation listening devices for foreign followers.

The 403.5-square-meter church in bustling Xisi Street in downtown Beijing, was visited by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2005, following in the footsteps of fellow presidents George H.W. Bush in 1989 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Beijing has selected 12 of the city's 70 mosques as the main reception venues for Muslims, and equipped them with Arabic signs and barrier-free facilities. Translators will work at the mosques during the Games. Beijing Islam Association has also organized 16 volunteers to work in the Olympic religious worship center.

China's constitution and laws protect religious rights and freedom. Ye Xiaowen, China Administration for Religious Affairs director, promised the level of religious service during the August Games would not be lower than any previous Olympiad. Source.


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Please Help Our Team!