Mass appeal: why China’s unofficial Catholic churches are a hit with foreign believers

Source: South China Morning Post

BY Louise Moon

At 10am on a Sunday morning, more than 100 foreigners wait outside one of the embassies in Beijing’s eastern Chaoyang district.

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One by one they hand over passports, go through a turnstile guarded by Chinese soldiers and scan their bags before they enter a function room full of fold-out chairs facing a makeshift altar.

By the time the Catholic priest starts saying mass, the room will be packed.

Five kilometres across town on one of the city’s most famous shopping streets, a handful of Westerners join the congregation filing in for a 4pm English service at state-run St Joseph’s Church.

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