The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace invited Catholics in the United States to offer prayers for the people of China and the well-being of the Catholic Church in that country May 23-30.

Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, supported the week of prayer, as called for March 14 by Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, who asked that prayers be offered for the protection of all people of China because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

The week is an expansion of the annual Worldwide Day of Prayer for China on May 24, the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, as designated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.

“Recognizing China’s growing global power, Cardinal Bo has expressed his hope that through these prayers China ‘may become a force for good and a protector of the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalize in the world,'” Malloy said in a statement released May 20 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Similarly, Pope Francis has also affirmed his prayers for Catholics in China, acknowledging their difficulties, assuring them of his daily prayers, and exhorting them to be good citizens, ‘to make a prophetic and constructive contribution born of their faith in the kingdom of God,'” Malloy said.

“In unity and great love, let us join with the church universal in our prayers to Our Lady Help of Christians, for China,” he added.

In asking people to pray, Bo said he was “expressing his love for the people of China, his respect for their ancient civilization and extraordinary economic growth.”

The cardinal, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, said that since the start of the pandemic, the Chinese people have faced increasing challenges.

Last year, Bo called on China’s regime to apologize and offer compensation to the world for the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Let me be clear — it is the Chinese Communist Party that has been responsible, not the people of China, and no one should respond to this crisis with racial hatred toward the Chinese,” Bo said in a message in April 2020, reported