The secret agreement reached in 2018 between Beijing and the Vatican does not seem to question the process of the sinisation of the Chinese Catholic Church. The destruction of religious buildings is increasing: the latest project, that destroying in the near future the monumental arch of a famous shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Largely forgotten by the Catholic hierarchy in the West, the faithful are trying to mobilize.
They came by tens of thousands on a pilgrimage to Dongerou, China, from all over the country, big and small, braving the police force and the inquisitive eye of the commissars of the people, to honor the Virgin of Seven Sorrows, the day of her feast, at the sanctuary dedicated to her.
But on September 15, 2019, the crowd of pilgrims has tears in their eyes: the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants the destruction of the monumental archway to the sanctuary, which is called the “Gate of Heaven.” Officially, it's a question of running a highway through here. Unofficially, the arch, which is reminiscent of Western Christian art, is considered to be contrary to the canons of the sinisation of religion decreed by the Chinese Communist Party.
The sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Seven Sorrows was built in 1924. The “Gate of Heaven” overlooks a long winding path crossing the mountain, embellished with the Stations of the Cross. From there, the pilgrim can contemplate the sanctuary itself, which is inspired by the architecture of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.
Even though significant security measures were deployed on September 15, 2019, everything went quietly. This year, no priest, except those from the diocese of Taiyuan, was allowed to celebrate Mass. In order to express their disapproval of the project to destroy the building, many worshipers knelt on the steps leading to the “Gate of Heaven.”
The “sinisation” of Catholicism is a principle adopted by the Communist Party in 2015, which was reaffirmed by President Xi Jinping at the 19th Congress in October 2017. It is about setting up a kind of “religious public sector” by operating a utopian synthesis between socialism, national tradition, and Christianity.
In fact, it is about submitting Catholicism to the Chinese Communist State. This persecution is taking place with the complicity of the ecclesiastical hierarchy who believes in a possible agreement with the Beijing authorities. It's as if the papacy had not warned Catholics against the intrinsic evil of atheistic communism -- which Pope Pius XI did in 1937 in the encyclical Divini Redemptoris.