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China allows religious to open facility for terminal patients

China is opening its doors to the St John of God Brothers, who will work with terminally ill cancer patients.

Korean Br Thadu Kang has been charged with setting up the centre in the province of Jinin.

Local health authorities issued the invitation to the St John of God brothers. The officials said that every year 3000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the city of Yanji, 1000 of whom are poor and have no ability to obtain treatment.

Br Thadu Kang will be joined next month by Irish Brother Brendan Flahive and, early in 2002, by an additional three religious brothers -- one Korean and two Vietnamese -- who will help to train Chinese personnel.

The invitation was made following a meeting two years ago, when Br Flahive was first in touch with the Chinese health authorities of nine hospitals of Jinin province, including the Yanji oncology centre. The Irish brother, a nurse, has specialised in the palliative care of cancer patients.

Chinese health representatives visited the St John of God centre for terminally ill cancer patients in the Korean city of Kwangju, and were so impressed that they asked the religious to open a similar facility in China.

Although the brothers will not be able to engage in religious activities publicly, they will be able to pray in their religious community, and with the sick and their relatives, so long as the latter request this explicitly.

St John of God Brothers