Henan, church banned for children under 18: ‘taking the legs from under the Christian community’s growth among young people'
A circular notice issued also banning religious education for minors. Priests who do not follow it will be dismissed. So far the ban is applied in Henan and Xinjiang, but it is feared it will be applied nationwide. Amazement at the guarantors of the ban: Two priests.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - In Henan, a circular notice dated April 8prohibits all young people under 18 years of age from entering church to attend mass. It also forbids priests to organize any activities - conferences, summer or winter camps, etc ... - with young people. Below we publish the complete text of the circular note (and the photo of the document, with the official stamps), signed by the Henan Patriotic Association (PA) and the Henan Commission for Church Affairs.
The directive - justified as an application of the new religious regulations - is to be rolled out across both official and non-official communities. A priest from Anyang says that every Sunday PA agents stand at the entry to his church sending children who want to attend the mass away and that they have also posted a sign carrying the ban.
The circular note has been issued in every city, village, school. According to AsiaNews sources, the directive is in place not only in Henan, but also in Xinjiang. Catholics fear that it will be applied sooner or later throughout the country, dragging the situation back to the times of the Cultural Revolution. "In this way - a girl tells AsiaNews - they are taking the legs from under the growth of the Christian community, because they are snatching young people from religious education".
In recent days, various criticisms of the circular have appeared on the Chinese social networks from faithful to the official and non-official Church. Some note with shame that the president of Henan PA is a priest, Fr. Wang Yuezheng of Zhengzhou and that the secretary of the Henan Commission for Church Affairs is another priest, Fr. Li Jianlin. They wonder if the two priests are conniving and agree with this ban, or if they are only impotent victims of the excessive power of the Party.
It must be said that this year, Fr. Wang is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a national body that should act as a "councilor" of the Chinese Communist Party.
In an attempt to continue the education of young people, several priests are trying to put into practice ways to circumvent the ban: even the priests of the official Church are forced to act and propose unofficial gatherings!
Here is the text of the circular notice:
The two official Church organs in the Henan Province - the Henan Catholic Patriotic Association, and the Henan Commission for Church Affairs - jointly issued a circular on April 8, 2018. This circular, with great severity, requires the affiliates of these two bodies at every level to implement the new regulations on religious activities, adhering to the principle of "separating religion from education", and in particular prohibits "religious associations to organize activities of any form to disseminate religious education for minors ".
Below are the detailed rules shown in this circular:
Throughout the Province, it is forbidden to organize activities of any form such as school, class, summer camp or winter camp, etc. for minors for religious education or formation;
The faithful are invited to go to church to leave their children in custody of others so as not to take the children with them to church;
Although in the past it was mainly used to inform and educate the people on the aforementioned issues, now it is "red line" and "high pressure line", and should not be overlooked;
In the event that these rules are not followed, those responsible for religious sites will be held responsible, under penalty of cancellation of the qualification and registration as employees of religious activities, as well as the closure of such religious sites;
The present circular and its contents must be disseminated in due course to every church and religious site.
Henan Catholic Patriotic Association
Henan Commission for Church Affairs