PopeWatch: Hong Kong and China

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Our Pope works hand in glove with the gangsters ruling China and will not say a word against them.  Sandro Magister gives us the details:

 

Silence on everything that could irritate the Beijing authorities is certainly one of the many prices that the Holy See has agreed to pay, to keep from breaking up the fragile accord on the appointment of bishops that it sealed on September 22 2018 with China.

It is a silence to which the first to submit is Pope Francis, usually extremely talkative about everyone and everything, but who on the popular protests that have been raging in Hong Kong for three months has not said word one.

And yet from the beginning the protests have seen in the front ranks Christians, and above all Catholics, who are only 8 percent of the city’s population but are very active and influential, starting with their highest authorities:

> Quanta Chiesa c’è nella piazza di Hong Kong

In June, leading the first prayer vigils (see photo) in front of the building of the Legislative Council was the auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Ha Chishing, a Franciscan friar. And the first major appeal for the repeal of the law on extradition to China – the fuse that ignited the protest – was headed with the signature of Cardinal John Tong Hon, former bishop of Hong Kong and currently apostolic administrator of the diocese while waiting for Rome to appoint his successor.

In the diocese of Hong Kong, Rome need not submit to the chains that in mainland China subordinate the selection of every new bishop to the tyranny of the Beijing authorities. But the delay in the appointment is also evidence of the Holy See’s fear of irritating its Chinese counterparty.

The result is that, in the protest, the Catholics of Hong Kong – bishops, priests, nuns, faithful – find themselves alone, without any support on the part of Rome.

And if they speak, they can do so only on their own account, as auxiliary bishop Ha needed to preface in the interview that he gave a few days ago to the agency “Asia News” of the Pontifical Institute For Foreign Missions:

> Msgr. Ha of Hong Kong: Close to young people, we work for reconciliation

But the silence on Hong Kong is not the only element revelatory of the difficult relationship that obtains between the Church of Rome and China.

For a more general overview of the tyranny exercised by the Chinese authorities over the religions, and over the Catholic Church in particular even after last year’s accord, the talk given at a conference in Germany at the end of August by the director of “Asia News,” Fr. Bernardo Cervellera, is more instructive than ever.

The talk is reproduced below with the author’s permission. But without the very helpful documentary apparatus – links, notes – that is found in the original text available on “Asia News” in Italian, English, and Spanish, as well as in Chinese:

> Religious policy in China before and after the Sino-Vatican agreement

*

ASPECTS OF RELIGIOUS POLICY IN CHINA

by Bernardo Cervellera

Churches closed or destroyed; crosses torn down from bell towers or ripped from the walls of the churches; domes razed to the ground; ancient statues of shrines seized; religious signs removed from inside and outside homes; priests driven out of their ministry; others forced to return to their village of origin; young people under the age of 18 blocked and stopped in front of churches because they are not allowed to enter or receive any religious instruction.

These are some of the realities of life in the Catholic Church in China. For some Chinese priests it is a new cultural revolution, perhaps without the original iconoclastic fury and chaos. In reality, these situations respond to a very precise project, which is not at all chaotic, indeed pursued with precision and systematic capillarity and it began several years ago.

The new regulations

These forms of suppression have become even more common since the promulgation of the New Regulations on Religious Activities. Issued on February 1, 2018, these regulations are characterized by:

1. a negative view of religions, such as possible sources of terrorism, ethnic and national divisions, threats to national security and the health of citizens, … (see in particular Chapter VIII of the New Regulations);

2. the affirmation that the exclusively top-down control exerted by religious affairs offices at all levels – national, provincial, county, city or village – alone renders a religion livable and acceptable. The representatives of the religious affairs offices at all levels are continuously invited to “work”, “organize”, “verify”, “control” the work of the communities of the faithful (see art. 6, 26, 27);

3. new provisions not only regarding the construction of places of worship – which require permits at diverse levels: local, provincial, national – but also the erection of crosses, statues, their dimensions, colors and positions. These must also be verified and receive the permission of the religious affairs office (articles 29-30). In any case, “the construction of large religious statues outside temples and churches is prohibited”.

4. new areas of control, concerning texts posted on the internet, which must have the permission of the government authorities and “must not contain prohibited contents” (articles 47-48), with a ban on

5. the perennial requirement to register religious personnel (priests and bishops), demanding they commit to support independence, self-governance, self-financing;

6. a new data: massive fines (up to 200 thousand-300 thousand yuan) if there are religious activities in unregistered places and with unregistered personnel, including the seizure of the building in which illegal gatherings take place (see art. 64).

Precisely these fines and the possibility of the expropriation of buildings where unregistered (illegal) religious gatherings take place prompted many unofficial priests to immediately advise their faithful not to gather more, as it involved a serious economic risk that would profoundly damage the communities.

Indeed, the New Regulations (NR) seem to be aimed primarily at eliminating the experience of unofficial communities. Immediately after the launch of the NR, for several months police and representatives of the Religious Affairs Office held a succession of meetings with bishops, priests and lay faithful of the underground communities to “drink a cup of tea” and “advise” them to register in the official communities . This would explain the “forced vacations” of Wenzhou’s bishop, Msgr. Peter ShaoZhumin, and the indoctrination lessons for priests in Hebei, Henan, Inner Mongolia, …

Zero tolerance for underground communities

It now appears that there is “zero tolerance” for unofficial communities. Hebei, Henan, Zhejiang, Fujian are among the most affected areas. One example among the many is the fate of at least 10 churches in the diocese of Qiqihar, all closed, and with some priests driven out and forcibly taken back to their villages of origin.

Since the end of September 2018, at least seven churches and their communities have been suppressed in that diocese, whose bishop, Msgr. Joseph Wei Jingwi, is recognized by the Holy See, but not by the government. Members of the United Front, police, representatives of the Religious Affairs Office entered churches while mass was being celebrated, interrupted liturgical services, drove the faithful away, threatened them and decreed the closure of the communities. The penalized communities are those of Shuang Fa, Zhangzhou, Feng Le, Wu Yuan, Wu Da Lian Chi, Tong Bei, Jia Ge Da Qi.

Some priests were asked to leave the area or face being forcibly expelled. The suppressed communities are all “underground”, that is they are not registered. However, they had lived in good relations with local authorities for years, which easily turned a blind eye to their gatherings.

Another key example is what is happening in Henan, where the government recognizes almost none of the dioceses – minus Anyang – and where the campaign to destroy underground communities and register priests is very strong.

In April 2018 a church was destroyed in Hutuo (Xicun, Gongyi), in the diocese of Luoyang. In the same diocese, a few days later, the tomb and tombstone of the underground bishop Msgr. Li Hongye (1920-2011) were desecrated. The faithful think that the violence against the tomb is because there were signs of his episcopal office, which was not recognized by the regime, on the tombstone.

On April 28 last, the local authorities of Weihui, in the Diocese of Anyang, destroyed the huge iron crosses that towered over the two bell towers. Two videos of the operation, sent to AsiaNews, show technical staff removing one of the crosses on tall cranes. Dozens of police officers are deployed in the Churchyard to prevent possible protests or resistance. Many faithful, impotent against abuse, knelt on the steps of the churchyard to pray and sing. The faithful remained in prayer throughout the day.

Control of official communities

Even the official Church is suffering from tighter and more intolerant controls. A few examples: on the night between 6 and 7 May 2019, the demolition of the Catholic church of Shen Liu village in the diocese of Handan (Hebei) began. So far, the destruction has limited itself to removing a huge cross from the bell tower, but soon the walls will be torn down. Local authorities have motivated their decision because the church and the cross are “too visible” from the nearby highway and passing cars can be distracted by the Christian symbol and the building. They also say that the church does not have all building permits. The faithful claim instead that the church – which belongs to the official community – was built with the permission of the Religious Affairs Office. According to some priests of the diocese, the local government has already planned the destruction of 23 other churches, all belonging to the official community.

In July and August 2018, two (official) churches were destroyed in the name of urban planning – in Qianwang and Liangwang (Shandong); their land was seized for building development without any compensation.

In October 2019, two shrines dedicated to Our Lady were dismantled and destroyed by the Chinese authorities. They are the shrine of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows in Dongergou (Shanxi), and of the shrine of Our Lady of Bliss, also known as “Our Lady of the Mountain” in Anlong (Guizhou).

Some faithful told AsiaNews that the Dongergou shrine was destroyed in the name of “sinicization”: the authorities declared that there were “too many crosses” and “far too many decorations which exceeded all limits” and for this reason, they had to be removed and destroyed.

The shrine of Our Lady of the Mountain in Anlong was destroyed because the authorities declared that it lacked the necessary permits for construction.

Priests and bishops are victims of this crackdown: Fr. Liu Jiangdong of Zhengzhou (Henan), has been expelled from his parish since October 2018 and banned from living as a priest, for daring to organize meetings with young people even under the age of 18, in contravention of the ban on giving religious education to minors.

It is also worth remembering here – even if his case pre-dates the NR – Msgr. Thaddeus Ma Daqin, bishop of Shanghai, in solitary confinement and under house arrest since 2012 for daring to detach himself from the Patriotic Association. Even his rethinking was of no use because the PA “does not trust him”.

Sinicization

The control over the life of the Church also takes place through “sinicization”, which while highlighting the need to inculturate the faith, exalts a nationalist patriotism disrespectful of faith and its expressions. In the name of “sinicization”, the Church must not only assimilate Chinese culture, and express its beliefs with Chinese categories, but must develop theologies, history and works of art according to Chinese culture. The ultimate verification of this process rests with the Patriotic Association.

The push towards inculturation has also become iconoclasm and destruction of works of art from the past (“too Western”), external and internal decorations of churches, elimination of crosses from bell towers, destruction domes and facades “non in Chinese style”. Even the couplets that express greetings for Chinese New Year must be devoid of all religious signs or phrases, in favor of the Chinese (atheist?) style. It is also forbidden for churches to sell couplets with religious expressions; the faithful are forbidden to display them in front of their homes.

Xi Jinping launched the theme of sinicization back in 2015. After an analysis of the situation, in which the Chinese Communist Party feared a fete similar to the USSR, on May 20, 2015, in a meeting with the United Front, Xi decreed that religions must “become synonymous” if they want to continue living in China. The same concept was reiterated at a national meeting on relies affairs in April 2016, and then led to his notes on religions at the 19th Congress of the CCP,  in October 2017.

For Xi Jinping, sinicization means:

1. assimilation of religions to Chinese culture “eliminating external influences” from the cultural point of view;

2. independence from any foreign influence;

3. submission to the Chinese Communist Party and its leadership.

In this way, we understand why the communities are obliged to hoist the flag of China on every religious building, to sing patriotic hymns before functions, top hang a portrait of Xi Jinxing even on the altars all in the name of patriotism and support for the Party.

Go here to read the rest.  Our Pope is not only a bad Pope.  It is increasingly clear he is simply a bad man.

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2 Comments

  1. China: “In the name of “sinicization”, the Church must not only assimilate Chinese culture, and express its beliefs with Chinese categories, but must develop theologies, history and works of art according to Chinese culture.”

    Amazon: “The Church must ‘discover the incarnate and active presence of God’ in ‘the spirituality of original peoples’, recognizing in them ‘other avenues / pathways’, since the Creator Spirit ‘has nurtured the spirituality of these peoples for centuries, even before the proclamation of the Gospel’ teaching them ‘faith in the God Father-Mother Creator’ and ‘the living relationship with nature and ‘Mother Earth’ as well as ‘with ancestors’.

    I’m seeing some disturbing parallels here. Not surprising.

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