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Catholic persecution worse after Vatican-China deal, Congress finds

China is reportedly ramping up stricter controls on religious groups and events in 2020.

A man prays during Mass in 2017 at in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing. (CNS photo/Wu Hong, EPA)

Washington D.C., Jan 8, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- A new U.S. government report says that human rights abuse in China has worsened in the last year, and specifically highlighted the escalating persecution of Chinese Catholics in the wake of the Vatican-China agreement of 2018.

“During its 2019 reporting year, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China found that the human rights situation has worsened and the rule of law continued to deteriorate, as the Chinese government and Party increasingly used regulations and laws to assert social and political control,” stated the commission’s annual report, released on Wednesday.

The report said that “After the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement with the Holy See in September 2018 paving the way for unifying the state-sanctioned and underground Catholic communities, local Chinese authorities subjected Catholic believers in China to increasing persecution by demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy.”

The report’s time frame covers human rights in China from August 2018 to August 2019. The commission was established by Congress in 2000, as China was set to enter the World Trade Organization, to report on human rights in the country and to maintain a database of political prisoners.

Wednesday’s report notes the rise of mass internment camps in the country’s western Xinjiang province, the brutal persecution of Christians, Muslims, and other unregistered churches or religious groups, and repression of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The Chinese Communist Party’s five year “sinacization” plan is underway to establish state control over religion. “Scholars and international rights groups have described religious persecution in China over the last year to be of an intensity not seen since the Cultural Revolution,” the report said.

And China is reportedly ramping up stricter controls on religious groups and events in 2020.

New restrictions set to be enforced in February include mandates that religious groups “adhere to the directives on religions in China, implementing the values of socialism” and promote the “principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Another article “requires that the government authorities be involved in the selection of religious officers and involved in disputes.” Underground churches or “home” churches are outlawed.

The 2018 Vatican-China agreement on the appointment of bishops aimed to bring about the unification of the state-sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the underground Church in communion with Rome. Instead, persecution of the underground Church has continued and, according to some, intensified.

The number of Catholics in China is estimated to be more than 10 million, the report said, with official statistics saying that 6 million Catholics are part of the state-sanctioned church.

“Observers and Catholic believers expressed concern that the agreement did not provide sufficient support for the Chinese Catholic community, with one scholar pointing out that the authorities’ persecution of both underground and official Catholic communities has actually intensified over the last year under the ‘sinicization’ campaign,” the report found.

“In spring 2019, authorities detained three underground priests of Xuanhua diocese in Hebei province.”

“Local Chinese authorities subjected Catholic believers in China to increasing persecution by demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy,” the report said.

One of the report’s recommendations to Congress is for members to advocate for “the right of Catholics to be led by clergy who are selected and who conduct their ministry according to the standard called for by Catholic religious beliefs.”

The Chinese government’s treatment of other religious communities was also highlighted by the report.

In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the country’s far west, “the Commission believes Chinese authorities may be committing crimes against humanity against the Uyghur people and other Turkic Muslims,” with estimates at “one million or more Uyghurs” detained in internment camps and reports of forced labor in the camps.

“Security personnel at the camps subjected detainees to torture, including forced ingestion of drugs; punishment for behavior deemed religious; forced labor; overcrowding; deprivation of food; and political indoctrination,” the report said. Due to overcrowding, some detainees were sent to camps elsewhere in China; some “reportedly died in camps due to poor conditions, medical neglect, or other reasons.”

There were reports of “the use of electric shocks and shackling people in painful positions” in camps.

Elsewhere in the region, authorities have set up “a pervasive and high-tech surveillance system” with facial recognition cameras and cell phone monitoring, as well as biometric data collection of members of ethnic minorities.

While Muslims have been subject to strict controls on religious practice in the region, the purported “anti-terrorism” measures of the government might be used elsewhere in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (Ningxia) where many Hui Muslims reside, the report noted.

Both the House and the Senate have passed legislation, the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, to provide more reporting to the federal government on the human rights abuses committed against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and the transfer of technology to enable mass surveillance.

The two bills must be reconciled before a final vote to send the legislation to the President’s desk, which members of the commission promised would happen in 2020.

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  1. Would it be a fit of hysteria [a noted sage abhors such hysteria on Catholic websites] to make the outrageous allegation that China is the perfect model of Christian social doctrine and that the Pontiff is perfectly satisfied with China policy of dismantling better said literally eradicating Catholicism? “Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese said Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo. Sorondo chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, praised the Communist state as extraordinary, saying You do not have shantytowns, there is a positive national conscience. Bishop Sorondo added China was implementing Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ better than many other countries” (Catholic Herald 2.6.18). Would it be hysterical to make inference from this that the current German model of radical Synodal revision of Catholic doctrine, accommodation of Zeitgeist is consistent? A model for the universal Church. Pachamama mania priestly ecological conversion pledge of allegiance to the UN are consistent with the intent of Laudato Si’ and the loosening of doctrinal hawsers in Amoris laetitia. The sages need differentiate hysteria from righteous outrage.

    • What also eats at me is this: How is the Pope not guilty of a schismatic act by recognizing a schismatic communist “church,” and insisting that the true dioceses recognize the “authority” of the schismatic “church?” Why the silence from our bishops here in America? This is outrageous, just like anything from this pontificate. Even when he seems to speak truth, we would at this point be negligent at best to not hold every last syllable that fires from his lips with great skepticism. Can a schismatic even be pope?

      What also disturbs me is that the “sage” you refer to has taken the route that too many conservative Catholics have taken, and that is to white-wash and excuse so much that is inexcusable with Bergoglio. If a person were to accept and implement all the teachings of this man, he would have only the appearance of Catholic, but in fact, he would have become an apostate and his religion would be that of a globalist humanism.

      This man Bergoglio teaches to go to the peripheries. Perhaps the conservative Catholics should do just that, go to the peripheries in our own Church and engage in dialogue with them. The peripheries I speak of are the SSPX, Sedes, Traditionalists, etc…perhaps they have been onto something this whole time. Perhaps the real schismatic is the current claimant to the Chair of Peter.

    this too , shedding more light about the topic .
    The good from having formalised relations would be , a deeper oneness in the wounds , the grace to take in more deeply , the truth that these too are part of our family , including the many that have gone before , unbaptised ones too , to include all in the prayers , esp. at the Holy Mass . Bl.Mother asking for Consecration was possibly for the same intent as well, that the separated Churches , said to ‘tear up ‘ The Body ‘,
    be brought closer into communion , to be spared of the judgments for false oaths of unity .
    Thank God that The Church tries to go all out ,to bring in the Sacramental
    unity , may be at times , running like The Father of the prodigal , a bit too hasty to put on the robe and the ring , not smelling the stink of the swine ..
    As much Chinese goods are now a days in most homes , let us hope that articles such as these would help to often keep them in prayers too , that they take in the light that , those who torture , have an enemy who is lot more powerful in that
    area ,gleefully planning the torture chambers for them , for far worse torture than they can imagine , that our Lord alone has won over that enemy , for the sake of their beloved ancestors as well –

  3. “Persecution worsens in China”, persecution is merciless and in full force. Christian symbols forbidden, portrait of President XI, the new Emperor a must. Oath and allegiance to the Communist Party and China. Bishop had to go underground to avoid oath to the State, complete surrender to the empire, all scriptures tossed out only the New Bible revised by the state is allowed. Pope Francis slapped twice the Chinese woman’s hand who cried out to him supposedly “Why destroy the Chinese, please help us”

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. US CONGRESSIONAL REPORT: PERSECUTION WORSENS IN CHINA – Increased attempts to force faithful to kneel before Chinese state |
  2. US Congressional Report: Persecution Worsens in China – God Alliance USA
  3. Catholic persecution worse after Vatican-China deal, Congress finds – Truth Reporter
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