Even as China and the Vatican ostensibly seek to improve their relationship with one another, Chinese Communist Party authorities are declaring that the Catholic Church in China should exist not under the authority of the Vatican, but, rather, should adhere to the whims of Beijing.
Although Pope Francis has been actively seeking to establish…or re-establish…a functional relationship between the Vatican and Beijing with respect to the Catholic Church in China, a sticking point to achieving that end has come in the form of China’s ongoing demand that the Holy See remain a non-participant in matters of faith in China.
The bottom line is that the Communist Party in China wants church leaders at the local level to be at least as much reflective of the political interests of the state as they are reflective of the interests of Catholicism. The communists say that bishops should be appointed by the Catholic Church in China, not by Rome, and that the pope should have no authority over the church in China.
The rift between the Catholic Church and the China came to pass when the communists rose to power in 1949. By 1951, after a series of incidents, Beijing cut diplomatic ties with the Vatican, and the relationship has remained largely nonexistent since that time.
As reported by Christian Today, Yu Zhengsheng, a senior official with the Communist Party told the “government-approved” Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and Bishops Conference of Catholic Church of China that Chinese Catholics should “run their church independently and better integrate it into society.”
“The church should adhere to the principles of self-administration, run religious affairs independently and guide believers to adhere to the Sinicization path of the religion,” said Yu (“Sinicization” refers to making something more Chinese in orientation).
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large