While Macau is supposed to be able to enjoy a relative freedom, thanks to the principle of “one country, two systems,” the Catholics of the former Portuguese colony have learned the hard way the meaning of the policy of sinisation of religion desired by Beijing.
The Catholics of Macau, China, are absolutely furious: for three consecutive nights, from September 29 to October 1, 2019, the local branch of the Communist Party (CCP) in power, organized a sound and light show to the glory of Maoism and China, and the Beijing government, in the historical ruins of St. Paul’s Church, located in Santo Antonio, on the west side of the peninsula.
The event—pompously dubbed “Glorious Splendor in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China”—took place on the south facade of the church built in the early seventeenth century by exiled Japanese Catholics.
Dedicated to the Mother of God, the facade depicts the Virgin standing victoriously above a seven-headed dragon.
“The faithful are very unhappy because these remains are an important symbol for the Church, and even though the place is currently under government control, the spectacle should have brought out the history of this heritage,” as Fr. Cyril Jerome Law, Chancellor of the Diocese of Macao said on October 2, 2019.
In response to the Chancellor, the Secretary of Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam Chong Weng, dismissed the problem in an irenic way by saying to Macau News: “we cannot question the spectacle; they are in need of tolerance and mutual understanding.”
The faithful, for their part, have well understood the message: by appropriating the facade of the church of Saint Paul to celebrate triumphant communism, it is the Catholic heritage of the former Portuguese colony that the CCP wishes to erase, in the name of a damnatio memoriae all the more insidious as it conceals its name.