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09/17/2020 China (International Christian Concern) – The Vatican-China Deal signed in 2018 expires at the end of September, allowing both sides to renegotiate terms. The current agreement requires Roman Catholic bishops to receive affirmation from both the Chinese government and the Vatican.

These terms threaten priests who have refused to register with the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) because of moral reasons and a desire to not be ‘sinicized’ by the government. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials allege that unregistered churches in China are illegal.

International Christian Concern defines ‘sinicization’ as making religions in China submit to socialism and the Party’s ideology by assimilating them to a Chinese cultural identity. The Chinese government operates from the belief that churches should follow the Communist Party.

According to Bitter Winter, one priest said the CCP summoned him three times in two weeks, “They told me that I would be prohibited from celebrating mass if I refuse to join [the CPCA]. They even threatened to punish me according to the National Security Law if I do.”

Many fear that the 2018 Vatican-China Deal’s renewal will allow a growth of ruthlessness from CCP towards unregistered priests.

“The new deal will not protect Chinese Catholics’ interests and will make the persecutions worse,” said a priest in Hebei province. “All changes brought about after the Vatican-China deal has disappointed Chinese Catholics. The CCP is ‘sinicizing’ all religions, forcing them to obey its rule and become the government’s puppets,” he continued.

Pray that these issues will be taken into consideration as the current Vatican-China deal expires and authorities on both sides renegotiate terms.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]