Vatican City.- Pope Benedict XVI has written a special prayer for Chinese Catholics who face “daily trials” in the officially atheistic country, the Vatican said Friday. The prayer will be uttered around the world on May 24, 2008, on the day that the pope has dedicated to praying for the Chinese church, which has long had a difficult relationship with the country’s authorities. The prayer–released in Chinese and six other languages–invokes the protection of the Virgin Mary and prominently mentions a shrine dedicated to her at Sheshan, in suburban Shanghai. Chinese authorities have tried to restrict access to the shrine during this year’s annual May pilgrimages. “Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus,” the prayer says.

–Chicago Tribune, Section 1, Around the World, page 12, “Pope pens prayer for Chinese flock”.