An 'independent' Church, in wake of China-Vatican agreement (II)
Part II of the essay "Church unity in China after the Sino-Vatican agreement". Patriotic association and council of bishops, controlled by the government, continue to exalt an "independent church", "synicized", "led by the Chinese Communist Party". And they hide the reality of persecution. Even figures of the Western church are used as "ambassadors of government propaganda".
Beijing (AsiaNews) - The agreement signed by the Holy See and China on the appointment of bishops has in no way changed the attitude of the Patriotic Association and the Council of Bishops. From the very next day after the signing (September 22, 2018) the ideal of an "independent Church", "synicized", "led by the Chinese Communist Party" has continued to be exalted. This is what the Catholic layman Duo Mo (Thomas) says in this punctual analysis. He points out that in the meantime the tearing down of crosses and churches have continued, bans on the religious education of minors, pressure on unofficial priests ... But in China and abroad, even among Catholic personalities, people prefer to remain silent about these persecutions, allowing themselves to become the government’s "propaganda ambassadors".
Today we publish the second part of the essay "The unity of the Church in China after the Sino-Vatican agreement". For the first part, see here.
3. Did the Patriotic Association and the Council of Bishops, controlled by the Chinese government, change their attitude after the China-Vatican Agreement?
On September 23, 2018, the spokesperson of the Patriotic Association and Council of Bishops of the Catholic Church in China addressed the Provisional Agreement between China and the Vatican on the appointment of bishops, stating: "We will continue to carry on the tradition of loving the country and religion, the principles of the independent Church, synicization; we will continue to follow a path that conforms to the socialist society, and under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, we will continue to fight together with other ethnic groups of the country to realize the Great Dream of China and the Chinese people ".
On September 26, 2018, the Patriotic Association and the Council of Bishops held the III session of the IX General Assembly in Beijing, Bishop Ma Yinglin concluded his speech by asking all bishops, priests and faithful to continue the tradition of love for country and religion, the principles of the independent Church and synicization, to promote the unity of the Church, to carry out evangelization activities and finally to fight for a new page in the history of the Church in China.
On December 18, 2018, a ceremony was held in Nanjing in memory of the 60 years of "independent" appointment of Chinese Catholic bishops (see photo).
On December 18, 2018, again in Nanking, during the second session of the IX General Assembly of the Catholic Church in China, Bishop Fang Xinyao said: "With the changing of the Chinese and international context, we must hold high the banner of love for the Motherland and religion, carry forward the principles of the independent Church, sinicization, promote unity to realize the Great Dream of China and the Chinese people by making a greater contribution! ".
On January 17, 2019, deputy director of the United Front Wang Zuoan paid a visit to the Patriotic Association and the Council of Bishops stating: "We must learn and put into practice the socialist thinking with characteristics of the New China promoted by President Xi Jinping, advance on the path of an independent Church. We must continue to discover and put into practice the development of synicization, modify and improve the "three directives"; continue the work of the election and appointment of bishops and the passage of underground bishops.”
On March 26, 2019, the leaders of the Patriotic Association and Council of Bishops held a general assembly in Hangzhou. During his speech, Bishop Fang Xinyao proposed that the Patriotic Association and the Council of Bishops welcome the idea of synicization, and in solidarity with each other explore and deepen new methods in its development, moving forward with determination on the path of the independent Church.
Through these speeches, I am sure that everyone can understand that the attitude of the Chinese government, the Patriotic Association and the Council of Bishops is coherent and consistent, both before and after the signing of the Agreement. If we keep in mind the large-scale demolition of churches and crosses in Wenzhou, up to the repression of Christians and the prohibition of minors entering the church in Henan; the closure of the underground churches all over the country, the passage of underground priests to official communities (as is the case in the diocese of Mindong), then it behooves us to ask: Why do those who judge the China-Vatican Agreement positively and affirm that the Chinese government and the Patriotic Association have now changed with respect to the past, actively decide to ignore all these events?
Father Jeroom Heyndrickx during a speech he gave in Taiwan, cites the visit he made in August 2018 to the diocese of Xiwanzi as an example. He says in the past the government did not allow such visits and he concludes: this means that the government has changed its attitude towards the Catholic Church. As a Chinese Christian, there is absolutely no way that I can agree with this statement. Why did Father Heyndrickx not specify that he was accompanied by a "diocese leader" supported by the government but not recognized by the Holy See? Was Father Heyndrickx allowed to meet the local bishop by any chance? When he enthusiastically recounted this experience in the new cathedral of Xiwanzi, the person responsible for building the church, Father Zhang was forbidden to administer the priestly ministries, and then threatened, arrested and forced to join the Patriotic Association. Through the visit of Father Heyndrickx, the Chinese government embellishes and hides acts of repression and persecution against local Catholics. Father Heyndrickx also said that, in 2019, he wants to bring the Belgian bishops to visit the Diocese of Xiwanzi. The reason why Father Heyndrickx is willing to be the government's "propaganda ambassador" remains unknown. When Father Heyndrickx applauds the China - Vatican Agreement, does he do so with a clear conscience okay?
(End of Part II)