Asian Catholics praying for Pope Benedict

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Milan (AsiaNews) – Many Catholic communities all over Asia have accepted the invitation Pope Francis made yesterday to recite a “special prayer” for Benedict XVI, whose health has seriously worsened over Christmas.

Today, in a briefing with reporters in the early afternoon, Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni gave an update on the conditions of the Pope Emeritus.

"He managed to rest well last night,” Bruni said. “He is absolutely lucid and alert and today, although his conditions remain serious, the situation is stable at the moment. Pope Francis renews the invitation to pray for him and to accompany him in these difficult hours.”

Asian Catholics praying for Pope BenedictFrom Myanmar, Card Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC), urged the faithful to "pray for this holy man, whose witness even today continues to bless the Church.”

"His contribution to Vatican Council II, his strong support of the mission of Saint John Paul II and his intellectual acumen are memorable contributions to the Church today. He remained faithful to the tradition and teachings of the Church.”

“May the protection of or Mother Mary continue to heal him and bless him with greater health."

In China Catholic communities are also praying for Benedict XVI, remembering with gratitude his 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics.

Among the first to heed Pope Francis's invitation was Card Joseph Zen on his twitter account, but many faithful did the same on Weibo, the Chinese microblogging platform.

A picture of Pope Benedict appears on along with the prayer released yesterday by Vatican News. The website is an important point of reference for Catholic communities in mainland China.

In India, Archbishop Card Anthony Poola of Hyderabad sent a message to the faithful inviting them to pray for the Pope Emeritus.

“I admire him for three things,” the cardinal writes. First, he is a “beautiful blend of a scholar and a pastor. [. . .] As a theologian his work on Jesus of Nazareth is marvellous” and he “had a pastoral heart”. Secondly, his “Love for the Church” is such and he has “never compromised with his values”, and, thirdly, he showed “Courage to step down from the papacy.

“Pope Benedict had courage, determination, and resolve to say ‘no’ when the office was too heavy to carry. In all humility he said he can’t carry further.

“At my Eucharistic Celebration yesterday and today I fondly remembered the Pope Emeritus and offered my prayers for him that the Lord may console him and sustain him.”

by Nirmala Carvalho