By Francesco Liang
Thousands of people in the People's Republic of China joined in the daily broadcast of the Pope’s Mass over these past few weeks.
Millions of people throughout the world followed these simple daily liturgies from the chapel of his residence in the Casa Santa Marta, thanks to the live television and radio broadcasts and news reports in many languages. This is precisely the gift that the Bishop of Rome wanted to give each day to so many people unable to move from home during this difficult time. That gift even reached the Catholic faithful of China.
The first live broadcast in China took place on 27 March. That's when Pope Francis led the special moment of prayer in the rain in an empty St Peter's Square to ask God for an end to the pandemic.
On March 30, broadcasts of the Mass from the Casa Santa Marta then began in China through social media. The first live celebration had 280 views. After that the number increased daily. In the past few days the number of people connected daily in real time reached between 7 and 8 thousand, with more than 10 thousand views. The Masses were followed by more than one member of the faithful connected to a single digital device, especially on Sundays.
How the Mass was transmitted
The liturgies were transmitted via smartphone, through the WeChat app, the most popular app in China. It is also commonly used by older people. In some cases the youngest children, more adept with new technologies, were able to transfer the images to a computer or television so the whole family could participate and the images could be seen better especially by the elderly. A simultaneous translation, also disseminated through WeChat, allowed all the people connected to understand the Pope's homily.
Thus adults, children and young people, together with their grandparents - all forced to stay at home to avoid being infected with the coronavirus - were able to follow the Pope's morning Masses. It was even more important because they have been unable to participate in person in the liturgies celebrated in the Chinese churches for more than three months due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Connection to Peter and the universal Church
The news that the live broadcast of the Pope’s Mass would end was greeted with some suffering and also with some tears.
Especially for the elderly and sick, the celebration of the liturgy by Pope Francis had become a daily appointment through which they felt accompanied by their shepherd.
Through the liturgy transmitted daily at 1:00 p.m. (7:00 a.m. in Italy), the Catholic faithful in China felt united in prayer with the Successor of Peter and with the universal Church.