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October 5 2010

The Chinese bishop Junmin at the Meeting: China, old age and suicide. Not only the GDP is growing in the Asian giant.

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Paul Pei Junmin, bishop of Shenyang, leads a diocese of about 43 million people, roughly equal to the inhabitants of Spain. Catholics are 120 thousand and their number is increasing. Also the problems of this country are growing. At the meeting organized by Sant'Egidio in Barcelona, Junmin speaks about a country where "urban population reaches 620 million people, equivalent to twice the U.S. population, but the majority of them - 680 million people - still lives in rural China. Junmin speaks not only about the successes of the Asian giant (GDP growth, improved living standards, development of international cooperation), but also of its limits.

"For the Chinese Church the care of sick and elderly people is a priority. We have opened small clinics to help the poorest of them, we have a program to treat AIDS, we build homes for the elderly, but we are facing a future we are not prepared to. China - said Junmin - by 2030 will become the world's oldest society, with 420 million elderly, and the rate of suicide among the elderly in rural areas is four to five times the world average. China is the only country where suicides of women overcome those of men and suicide is the major cause of death among the 15 to 34 age group."

Faced with these challenges, the bishop admitted having been tempted by discouragement, but to return every time to trust in Jesus and prayer, in order to show religion as a way, not only personal but social, to cope with these issues. "In China there is a religious revive, despite the fact that urbanization was expected to turn into the triumph of rationality and secular values. Over 56% of the population believe that religion has an important role in their lives. And, in our poverty, we want to help building an harmonious society in China."

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