02/04/2020 China (International Christian Concern) – A revised set of administrative measures on religions came into force on February 1 across China, covering all religions, as announced late last year by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
UCA News reports that among other things, the rules stipulate that each religion will be headed by a state-appointed representative conference, which will function as the supreme decision-making body for the respective religious group.
“Does this aim to abolish the traditional church model headed by bishops and replace them with group conferences? If there is no Catholic head for a church, is it still a Catholic church?” Father Li in Hebei province asked.
Father Li told UCA News that Catholic priests and church members had opposed these measures but failed to stop them.
“The CCP’s purpose is very clear. It is to change the Catholic Church into a group that belongs to them. These rules will push the Church into serious dangers,” he warned.
The Regulations on Religious Affairs announced in February 2018 already tightened space for the Church in China, but CCP revised and published them again last year, announcing they would be implemented comprehensively from February this year.
Under the new measures, religious groups need to submit themselves under the control of CCP – follow Sinicization of religion, and the core socialist values of the Party. Without approval from the government, they will not be able to conduct any religious activities.
Hau Baolu, a parish leader from Shaanxi, a province that has suffered severe repression over the years, said atheists have now come to manage the Church and wondered how the government can claim prominence over God and the Vatican in matters of faith and morals.
A Catholic nun heading a convent in Hebei told UCA News that the new rules “mean nothing” to her convent and the nuns.
“These rules do not apply to us because we have our own management and rules. If we follow these rules and this management method, we wouldn’t be a group of Catholic nuns anymore. We cannot change our nature of being,” she said.
Joseph Cao, a Catholic from the underground church in southern Jiangsu, said the new rules will have no effect on them.
“We have been oppressed by the Chinese Communist Party. They do not consider the church as a place to respect God, and nor do they accept the position of priests. We cannot accept it. Our members are united. We come together and attend Mass, so this method has no effect on us,” he said.
He said the CCP’s religious regulations “are useless” for them. He said the communist government cannot close down their churches and seal them “because we have no churches at all.”
For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]