(Correspondents Report: ABC Radio National) – There was major row between the Chinese government and the Vatican last week, amid accusations that a Roman Catholic Bishop had been arrested in the country’s north for no other reason that his faith. China has denied the claim, but the incident has underlined the determination of the communist authorities to dissuade the Chinese people from believing in anything greater than the party. Religion in China is too important to be left to the religious. Be it Tibetan Buddhism, Islam, or Christianity, China s Communist Party wants to play a part. Religion is now tolerated in China far more than it ever was in the days of Chairman Mao. But the Chinese dont enjoy freedom of worship. This week the Vatican expressed deep pain over what it called the arrest of an 84-year-old Catholic bishop in northern China . Bishop Zhao Zhendong, it said, had not been heard from since late May. Authorities had also picked up two other bishops in the same province at the same time. But while theyd been released, the Vatican said Bishop Zhao had not been. Chinese officials denied the man had been arrested. The State Security Department, and China s Religious Affairs Bureau, said the bishop had been receiving religious policy training, and had returned to a Christian village where there were no telephones. The American-based organization, the Cardinal Kung Foundation, says the incident is in keeping with the way Catholics are treated in China . The foundation tries to help members of China s underground Roman Catholic Church. Spokesman, Joseph Kung, says believers are in full communion with the Pope and the Catholic Church as it exists around the world. Not like those from the officially sanctioned Patriotic Association Catholic Church.
The Patriotic Association only preach to answer to the central government of China . And also, in their Bible, printed in China for the Patriotic Association, there are references about the authority of the holy father of the Pope. And when these references to the authority of the Pope were all scratched out, leaving a blank there. Its hard to know the exact truth. But some people estimate there are ten million members of the underground Roman Catholic Church in China , compared to four million in the approved church. Life for these and other religious outsiders is hard. A recent US State Department report said they face official interference, harassment, and repression. This is at a time when China is undergoing remarkable change. Life for many people under Communism has never been as good as it is now. But Joseph Kung believe that things have not improved for those people wanting to believe in something more powerful than the Communist Party. The economic improvements in China have little or nothing to do with religious freedom practiced in China . Yes, the economy has been improved very much in the last few years, but the practice of religious freedom in China is getting worse, and they are more restrictive for the religious beliefs to exercise their religious rights for their activities. So unfortunately it is not true because the economy is getting better so the religious freedom is getting better. That is not true.