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ICC Note: To reinforce the country’s Sinicization of religion, the Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics and the Council of Chinese Bishops have launched a “Five-Year Plan of Development for the Sinicization of the Catholic Church in China.” China seeks to eliminate “Western influence” in Christianity and wants to reinterpret the Bible to bring theology closer to communism in this latest attempt.  

05/31/2018 China (Asia News) – The Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics (PA) and the Council of Chinese Bishops (BCCC) have launched a “Five-Year Plan of Development for the Sinicization of the Catholic Church in China”. The plan was approved by acclamation in the Fourth Joint Meeting of the two national bodies, held last week, attended by the leaders of the two organizations, neither of which are recognized by the Holy See.

In his address to the gathering, Yu Bo, vice director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, explained that ” The 4th coalition meeting is to implement deeper the spirit of the Ninteenh National Congress of the Communist Party in October 2017 and the spirit of the National Conference on Religious Work in April 2016, and to focus on the deliberations of a five-year plan to advance sinicization of the China Catholic Church”.

The “sinicization” of religions and of the Chinese Catholic Church has been a constant theme since 2015, when President Xi Jinping took part in a meeting of the United Front (the body that should oversee all the non-communist realities of China) . It involves:

  1. a) increasing assimilation of Chinese culture into religious expression, eliminating “foreign influences”;
  2. b) “independence from foreign influence” (which means to do without the mandate of the Holy See for episcopal ordinations);
  3. c) submission to the Party because it must “guide” religions and must “hold firmly the role of leadership in all religious activities”.

No details of the 5-Year Outline were mentioned in the May 22 news release of the CCPA-BCCCC website. Even in the previous three coalition meetings, which have been devising contents for the Sinicization of the China Catholic Church, the CCPA-BCCCC website also gave no details. Some Catholic observers believed it was perhaps not to offend the Vatican, as China and the Vatican is undergoing negotiations and some illicit bishops in the national Church bodies are waiting for the Pope to absolve them.

However, a news report of the “Minzu Bao” (the official journal on religious and ethnic topics) of July 25 2017 on the first coalition meeting offered glimpses. It said the plan will be undertaken through five aspects. Based on a sincized Catholicism, it will

  1. take unified action to link up the development of the China Church;
  2. understand the history of the China Church;
  3. drive theological research of the China Church;
  4. pay emphasis on implementation in advancing evangelization and pastoral work;
  5. focus on the manifestation of a sinicized China Church in architecture, arts, and liturgy.

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