New developments in the sinisation of the Catholic religion, expressly desired by President Xi Jinping, occurred during the month of July 2019, with the organization of a retraining session for the clergy, which looked to copy the order to follow henceforth “a path conforming to socialist society.”
The diocese of Mindong, located on the Chinese coast in Fujian Province, is one of the oldest ecclesiastical districts of the Middle Kingdom. For this reason, it was chosen by Beijing to be the pilot diocese for the implementation of the secret agreement reached between China and the Holy See on September 22, 2018.
Bishop Zhan Silu—an excommunicated, schismatic bishop, reconciled by the pope—took the place of Bishop Guo Xijin—a member of the underground Church and, until now, the legitimate ordinary of the place—who has agreed to be demoted to auxiliary bishop at the request of the Roman pontiff.
However, Bishop Guo is not, at this time, recognized by the government, because Beijing requires him to sign an act of compliance that the prelate considers unacceptable. Moreover, some of the priests of the diocese of Mindong also refused to sign this document.
Retraining Session and Sinisation of Catholicism
Even so, some priests and religious have accepted. For these, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) organized, for July 21-27, 2019, a retraining session in Beijing during which party officers explained to priests the pastoral orientation that must be theirs from now on: “to be driven by the fundamental values of socialism,” and “to actively participate in the development of an independent, autonomous, and democratic Church.”
At the end of the session, the new legitimate bishop of Mindong addressed all his priests and religious in terms that leave little doubt about Beijing’s desire to normalize the Catholic Church: “We will fulfill our duties in accordance with the teachings of the Gospel, by reinforcing our mutual trust..., by deepening the content of Catholic doctrine in order to promote social harmony ..., to carry out the Sinisation of the religion: we will continue therefore to follow a path consistent with the socialist society. Finally, we must contribute to the creation of a new reality in the Diocese of Mindong and in the Fujian Catholic Church.”
A disturbing statement, which strengthens the position of Cardinal Joseph Zen, former bishop of Hong Kong, a lucid critic—from the beginning—of the agreement between China and the Holy See. Indeed, the prelate warned on January 29, 2018: “Is it possible to have something ‘in common’ with a totalitarian regime? Could we imagine an agreement between St. Joseph and King Herod?”