Chinese government official: No religion ‘transcends nations’

Beijing, China, Apr 3, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Chinese government official who oversees religious affairs said Tuesday that government restrictions on bishop appointments are not a violation of religious freedom, as he emphasized that religions in China must “adapt to socialist society.”

Chen Zongrong, former deputy director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, spoke at an April 3 press conference presenting a government “white paper” on “Chinese policy regarding the practice and safeguarding of religious freedom.”

“I disagree with the view that preventing Rome from having full control over the selection of bishops hinders religious freedom,” Chen said, according to the AP. “I believe there is no religion in human society that transcends nations.”

“The Chinese constitution clearly states that China’s religious group and religious affairs cannot be controlled by foreign forces, and [the foreign forces] should not interfere in Chinese religious affairs in any way,” he stated.

The white paper said that “Actively guiding religions in adapting to the socialist society means guiding religious believers to … be subordinate to and serve the overall interests of the nation and the Chinese people,” as well as “guiding religious groups to support the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system.”

The phrase “active guidance”, found scattered throughout the white paper, is a slogan of President Xi Jinping. Under Xi the Chinese government is pursuing an effort to “Sinicize” religion. In his role as general secretary of the Communist Party, Xi called last October for “new approaches” to religious and ethnic affairs.

The State Administration for Religious Affairs, of which Chen had been deputy director, was in March absorbed into the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, which is now responsible for  government oversight of religion.

The Church in China is split between an underground Catholic Church and the officially recognized Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Every bishop recognized by Beijing must be a member of the association, which is now under day-to-day direct supervision of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Holy See is in negotiations with the Chinese government that could eventually lead to Vatican recognition of seven illicitly ordained bishops aligned with Beijing and to a more normal life for underground Catholics.

Many underground bishops, priests, and lay faithful have faced persecution and harassment.

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  1. “I want a Church that moves the world not one that moves with it.” – G.K. Chesterton

    “Whoever does not hate error, does not love the truth”.  – G.K. Chesterton

    “Once abolish the God and the government becomes the God.” – G. K. Chesterton

    “When learned men begin to use their reason, then I generally discover that they haven’t got any.” – G. K. Chesterton

  2. The following ominous quote is attributed to Cardinal Pacelli concerning the future of the Church from Msgr. Georges Roche and Philippe Saint Germain’s Pie XII devant l’Histoire(published in 1972 by Robert Laffont, Paris) p. 52

    I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a Divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul. … I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the true Faith of the Church, reject Her ornaments and make Her feel remorse for Her historical past. A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, ‘Where have they taken Him?’

    — Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII)

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