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Chinese clergies to provide services for Olympics
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Sister Yu Shuqin is going to the Olympics Village in several days. Along with 16 colleagues, she will serve as a clerical person in the Catholic worship room in the village's religious service center.

"We often do such works when Beijing holds large foreign affairs activities, so it's not a big problem for us," said Yu, dressed in a grey nun's habit with a crucifix necklace hanging from her chest.

The staff member of the foreign affairs office of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association Beijing Division and sister with the capital's Southern Catholic Church, said it was an international practice to set up a religious service center in the Olympic Village. The five major religions in the world, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism, all had worship rooms in the center.

During the Games, both Protestant and Catholic churches in China will provide services to foreign believers. During the period, multilingual religious activities and religious scriptures will be provided to foreign believers.

Yu said among the 17 clerical staff were six priests who had studied abroad and could speak English, Italian, Korean and French. From late July to late September, they will attend mass and hear confessions in the village.

Yu, who can also speak Italian, is one of the five nuns in the group.

Concerning the Protestant Church, Rev. Xu Xiaohong, an official of the Shanghai-based China Christian Council in charge of publishing, said a 16-person Protestant volunteer group, consisting of ministers and students from theological colleges, would provide religious-related services to believers in the village during the Games.

The services include attending ordinary religious activities, simple interpretation works and guiding the way to churches in downtown Beijing, among others.

To meet the great demand, Xu said, an additional 50,000 copies of bilingual (Chinese and English) New Testaments would be printed. In addition, 10,000 copies of the bilingual new international version of the Bible would also be available to the athletes and supporting staff.

Together with the first 50,000 copies of the New Testament printed last month, the aggregate 110,000 scriptures will be available in the main churches in Beijing and the six co-host cities and the Olympic Village. People can keep them for their own use at any time.

"These scriptures provide convenience to the athletes and travelers. Moreover, they can take these Olympic logo embossed copies as souvenirs," Xu said.

"With such convenience, I hope foreign friends can experience the blessedness that God gives China," Xu said.

A Beijing Islamic Association official told Xinhua earlier that Chinese Islamic clerical persons would also provide services in the religious center of the village.

(Xinhua News Agency July 10, 2008)

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