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Dozens of Catholic churches destroyed in Chinese earthquake

 The devastating Sichuan earthquake which killed more than 50,000 people also destroyed dozens of churches, local Catholic officials have revealed. AsiaNews reports that attempts are underway to gauge the extent of the damage to churches and other religious buildings. Catholic parishes across China are celebrating Masses for the deceased, and gathering funds and donations for rebuilding. Many groups of Catholic volunteers have already left for Sichuan to offer their assistance with medical care and the distribution of food and water. Church officials in the diocese of Chengdu - an area in the epicentre - have compiled a provisional report of damage to churches. At least two were completely destroyed. Many have suffered structural damage. An Oriental style church in the county of Jintang with seven canopies lost all its tiles and one wall collapsed. Many other religious buildings have also been damaged. The diocese of Chengdu has about 100,000 Catholics, AsiaNews says. Five hundred Chinese Catholics are gathering in Rome this weekend for a world day of prayer for the Church in China to be celebrated tomorrow 24 May. Source: AsiaNews