China: The Church in the Clutches of the Red Dragon

December 08, 2020

The State Administration for Religious Affairs (Sara) has just released draft “Detailed Rules on Foreign Religious Activities in the People’s Republic of China.” The grip of the totalitarian communist state is so clear there, that one wonders how the Catholic Church could survive for a long time in the Middle Empire.

It is a litany of forty articles which list the directives on religious gatherings, the places concerned, the types of expression, the possible exchanges between foreigners and Chinese, religious material, etc.

The last section of the document could be surprising, because it mentions - in the event that an offense is found - the sanctions contained in the laws relating to public security and counter-intelligence. It will only surprise those who know nothing about Communism.

According to Asianews, who reported on the news on November 25, 2020, suspicion of religious activities, comparing them to “espionage,” is pervasive throughout the project.

Although it is formally recalled that “China respects the religious freedom of foreigners in its territory and protects religious activities in accordance with the law” (n. 4), every group, individual or activity is, within the facts, subject to very strict conditions, verified by the Bureau for Religious Affairs at the level of the city, the province, or the country.

Religious Activity of Foreigners Made Impracticable

To exercise religious activity in China, foreigners must “obey Chinese laws and regulations; respect the principle of China’s religious independence and self-determination; accept the jurisdiction of the Chinese government over the religious sphere”: which makes worship impossible and the Catholic faith empty of meaning.

In particular, it is recalled that no foreigner can “interfere with or dominate the affairs of Chinese religious organizations” (n. 21, 1): a schismatic attitude which seems to disregard the supreme jurisdiction which the Roman pontiff enjoys over all members of the Church.

To further mark this “sinisation” of the religions of which the master of the Middle Kingdom has championed himself, it is clearly indicated that the religious activities of foreigners must only employ foreigners, “even if they can sometimes use the help of a Chinese personnel, on a temporary basis, in order to perform a rite or a sacrament” (nos. 17 and 20).

In this enterprise of total control of the temporal over the spiritual, it is henceforth forbidden for foreigners to “create religious groups, activities, schools; to proselytize among Chinese citizens, recruit members or accept donations from Chinese citizens” (no. 21). Mao has truly found a worthy successor ...

Even religious material is subject to the permission of the all powerful Sara: one may not possess more than ten copies of the same book, pamphlet, audio or video document.

To receive permission to introduce such material, it will still be necessary to provide documentation explaining the content, submit it to Sara who will ultimately judge whether said material is likely to “harm the national security of China,” or be “contrary to Chinese principles of religious independence and self-government” (no. 25).

While “religious and cultural exchanges” remain possible, foreign personalities should clearly indicate that they adhere to the principles “of independence and autonomy” discussed above.

Communism Is Inherently Totalitarian

Of course, it is now “criminal,” no less, to have relations with unofficial Christians, such as the underground Catholic Church, the only one to remain fully faithful.

And, what will surprise only the naive, it is becoming difficult to have interaction, without Sara's supervision, with the official Church, recognized by the government: behold how Beijing rewards Catholics who have accepted the little red book next to the 4 Gospels!

The news of the publication of the project comes a few days after Pope Francis spoke of the “persecution” of the Uyghur ethnic group at the hands of Beijing, in the province of Xinjiang (northwest of the country).

A way for Xi Jinping to remind everyone that he firmly holds the reins of the country, and to demonstrate in passing the worrying weakness of the provisional agreement euphorically signed in September 2018, and renewed last October: in the game of Go - which is based on the encirclement of the adversary - it is not easy to defeat the Red Emperor ...

Sara sounds like the funeral song of the accord between the Vatican and China and we seem to be hearing the voice of Cassandra from Cardinal Zen, who ten days ago wrote on his blog: “How can he [Cardinal Parolin] ignore that everyone in China is at the ‘mercy’ of the Party?”