Bishop Lei celebrates the birth of China’s Communist Party in Leshan cathedral

Celebrations took place on 29 June, Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, two days before the Party’s official “birthday”. Catholics are urged to "listen to the word of the Party, feel the grace of the Party, and follow the Party”. Politics has entered the Chinese Church. The regime's control over Catholic clergy is getting tighter.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was celebrated last Wednesday (29 June), Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Leshan (Sichuan). Bishop Paul Lei Shiyin, as well as some priests and nuns attended the ceremony.

Officially, 1 July 1921 is the actual day when the party was founded under the leadership of Mao Zedong, which was followed by its first congress 22 days later.

For this occasion, the Catholic community was invited to "listen to the word of the Party, feel the grace of the Party, and follow the Party”.

A Catholic source told AsiaNews that in China “it is no longer a question of listening to the Lord, of feeling his grace and following him. This is the root of the disease of the Chinese Church today, it is difficult to get away from the influence of ideology. Politics has entered the Church.”

Bishop Lei, who was ordained without papal mandate in 2011, is a much-discussed character. He is rumoured of having a mistress and children.

Pope Francis lifted his excommunication after the Vatican and China signed an agreement on episcopal appointments.

Renewed in October 2020, the agreement has not stopped the persecution of members of the Catholic Church, especially those who belong to the underground Church, who do not want to submit to religious bodies controlled by the Party.

With xi Jinping cracking down on the activities of all religious groups, the room for manoeuvre of Chinese Catholics has been substantially reduced.

On 1 June, new measures for the financial management of religious sites came into effect. Administrative measures for online religious information came into effect on 1 March.

In February, the State Administration for Religious Affairs, a government entity under the control of the CPC's United Front, released the administrative measures for religious personnel designed to manage the clergy and people religious: monks, priests, bishops, etc.

In February 2018, the CPC adopted new regulations on religious activities, according to which men and women religious can perform their functions only if they join “official” bodies and submit to the CPC.