Sources with Beijing's Catholic churches said on Tuesday the capital's major churches would increase masses conducted in foreign languages during the Olympics. Foreign priests would likely preside over some of these masses.
According to the foreign affairs office of the Beijing Catholic Diocese, before the Games, Beijing's major Catholic churches, such as those at Dongjiaominxiang, Wangfujing and Xishiku, will increase masses held in French, Italian, and German, respectively. A Spanish mass is also under consideration.
Yu Shuqin, a staff member of the foreign affairs office and a sister in the Southern Church of Beijing, said although Chinese priests could speak some different languages, foreign priests were likely to preside over the masses in foreign languages during the Games.
Zhang Liang, a Tianjin Catholic Diocese priest, said an Irish priest was invited last year to preside over the English-language masses in Tianjin's Xikai Catholic Church twice a month. They attracted hundreds of participants each time. He added a Philippine priest replaced the Irish priest in May.
"On the one hand, it will help us provide better religious services during the Games," said Zhang. "On the other, it is for the foreigners living and working in Tianjin."
Tianjin, one of six Olympic co-host cities, will hold 12 football matches.
The Southern Catholic Church of Beijing currently has Latin and English masses. Almost 800 people participate in the English mass each Sunday. Father Han Wensheng said he expected more participants during the Games.
The China Christian Council (CCC) is now printing 100,000 copies of the New Testament with the Olympic logo on the cover. Some have been shipped to the Olympic Village and churches in Beijing and other co-host cities.
"The New Testament with the Olympic logo can provide convenience to believers coming to the Games. It is also a special celebration for the Games by the Christian Council of the host countries," said a report on the CCC website.