AsiaNews reports that more than 600 female monasteries are praying "so that the Holy Father's letter is well-received, China opens up to the Gospels and give unrestricted religious freedom to all believers".
Cardinal Dias said that Benedict XVI wrote the letter "to express his paternal closeness and offer them some orientation about the life of the Church and the work of evangelisation in that huge country".
He calls on them to "say special prayers so that the Letter of the Holy Father is well received, China opens up to the Gospels and give unrestricted religious freedom to all believers".
Cardinal Dias said that "the Catholic Church [in China] is split in two groups in relation to the government: an official Church recognised by government authorities and an 'underground' Church. This creates a lot of problems and confusion among the clergy and the faithful.'
"All Catholics are united in professing the one faith in their fearless loyalty to the Successor of Peter. For this reason many of them have experienced terrible persecution and died for the cause of Christ and the Church."
Citing Tertullian, one of the early Fathers of the Church who said that the "blood of martyrs is the seed of the church", the prefect of Propaganda Fide noted that "it is comforting to realise that the Church in China, despite the harsh persecution that has lasted five decades, is undergoing a strong numerical growth".
"Almost everyone of the hundred or so bishops in that territory are in communion with the Holy See, vocations to the priestly and religious life abound, the faithful attend holy mass in great numbers and are very devoted to the Most Holy Mary, Help of Christians and Queen of China."
In the message to the enclosed nuns, Fr Ciro Biondi calls the Pope's letter "a very important and much expected event that will become a milestone in the history of the third millennium."
The Pontifical Missionary Union secretary calls on the nuns to "dedicated a week of prayers so that the message of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, can bear fruit which He and all the Church hope for."
The call comes as Zenit reports that the underground Catholic bishop of Zheng Ding has been released after 17 days of solitary confinement.
Nuns to pray for Popeâ€™s letter on China and full religious freedom (AsiaNews, 25/6/07)
Bishop Jia released after 17 days (Indian Catholic, 25/6/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Church in China (Wikipedia)
Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (Wikipedia)
Catholic Church in China (Catholic Hierarchy)
No China ties unless Vatican appoints bishops (CathNews, 22/5/07)
China bishop still missing (CathNews, 17/4/07)
"Christian explosion" among Chinese intellectuals, expert finds (CathNews, 23/3/07)
No rest for Zen, Pope decides (CathNews, 22/3/07)
Bibles for Beijing Olympics (CathNews, 12/3/07)