LANZHOU, China – Catholics across China paid tribute during the feast of the Assumption to those who died in a mudslide the previous week.
The Aug. 8 mudslide in Zhouqu County, in Gansu province, claimed more than 1,200 lives; nearly 500 people remained missing in mid-August. The Asian church news agency UCA News said the country observed a day of mourning, with national flags flying at half staff and public entertainment suspended Aug. 15.
Churches canceled festivities such as fireworks, concerts and children’s song and dance performances normally featured during celebrations for the feast of the Assumption.
About 1,000 Catholics in Lanzhou Diocese observed a three-minute silence before the inaugural Mass at St. Francis Xavier Church in Jiayuguan.
Father John Baptist Yang Zongxue also spoke to churchgoers about conservation; many experts believe the mudslide was caused by deforestation and overdevelopment.
He called on the gathering to protect God’s creation and refrain from “damaging ecological harmony.”
The ecological theme was also picked up in neighboring Ningxia Diocese where Father Francis Gao Tianting told his parishioners that “all these happenings are a warning to us. We should do our very best to care for nature by saving energy and living a low-carbon life.”
In Sichuan’s Nanchong Diocese, Father Joseph Chen Gong’ao led the congregation at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in silent prayers for the mudslide victims, while traditional funeral music played.