A Tale of Two Churches

Father Benedictus's parish in Shijiazhuang, the sooty industrial capital of Hebei province, isn't recognized by the Chinese government: he's one of the country's underground priests. And yet he goes about his business with a remarkable lack of stealth. Four days after the death of Pope John Paul II, Father Benedictus removed his 125 cc Honda motorcycle from the courtyard that doubles as his church. In full view of the neighbors—and, he assumes, plainclothes police—some 400 worshippers paraded down a quiet lane to the courtyard bearing candles and a memorial photograph of the deceased pontiff. During mass, they wept, prayed and lined...

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