|The pontiff’s visit to Tuscany brings him to the historic textile town of Prato, where Chinese workers have flocked to toil in what are often very inhuman circumstances. These are the faithful Francis wishes to see
PRATO — Chen Xiaopoing was baptized Pietro, but he won’t go to see the Pope because there are coats and jackets to deal with. Hu Songhua bears a Christian name, Francesco, but that makes no difference, as there are jeans due for delivery.
Pietro and Francesco are lucky to be praying today in the Christian parish of Prato’s Chinese community, because the owners of the textile companies where they work are tolerant Buddhists. Most of the other owners of clothing factories in this textile town that has been overtaken by Chinese workers are post-cultural-revolution atheists who don’t give their employees such freedom. There’s work to do on Sundays, and the same certainly goes for Tuesday, when Pope Francis will speak at Prato’s cathedral before going on to Florence.
No doubt he will remind the faithful of his message that “black market work is a disgrace” and that “rest is a right.”
Mass in Chinese
Here in Prato, Father Paolo Hui, who celebrates holiday masses in Chinese, has a written memo handy about the Chinese Christians here: “They work 18 hours a day, every day, and they need to ask permission to pray. They sleep in warehouses. They don’t let them come to mass. I am going to inform His Holiness.”