Catholics in China have a very uncertain future. Despite the country's cordial exchanges with the Vatican, Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that religions in the country should be "Chinese” and cannot have foreign influence.
So, for example, the Pope cannot appoint bishops or influence Chinese Catholics.
Pope Francis recently said that the Church will once again remember and pray for Chinese Catholics on May 24th.
"We too will ask Mary to help Catholics in China to be always credible witnesses of this merciful love among their fellow citizens and to live spiritually united to the rock of Peter upon whom the Church is built.”
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI started the Day of Prayer for the Church in China.
In a letter to Chinese Catholics, he said that every May 24th, Catholics from throughout the world will pray for them . He assured them that "your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure.”
There are 12 million Catholics in China. They are divided between the underground Church, which is loyal to Rome and the Chinese Patriotic Church, which is ruled by Beijing.