Pressure Against Chinese Christians Continues to Intensify

Source: FSSPX News

A young girl attends mass at the Peking Cathedral in April, 2016

As in all Communist countries, the Constitution stipulates that the citizens enjoy freedom in religious matters. But, concretely, reality is different. 

In recent years, the government has increasingly tightened its control on religious practice, especially when it comes to children.

For example, the schools of the Yonglin district – where there are many Christians – received an official letter in August from the higher authorities “strictly forbidding all secondary and primary school teachers, students and toddlers to join Catholic or Protestant churches”. Note that this order concerns the places of worship of the official Church which is approved by the State, and applies all the more to the clandestine Church, which remains faithful to the Holy See.

The staff of the Yonglin school district faithfully transmitted the new rules, even warning parents that “an inspection team would launch open and undercover investigations on Sundays”, according to Ucanews quoted by the information agency of the Foreign Missions of Paris.

Representatives of neighborhood committees also sent officials to churches to persuade parents not to take their children there for Mass. The results were mixed. According to Maria, a parishioner in Wenzhou, many parents overstepped the interdiction and brought their children to the Feast of the Assumption on August 15.

The neighboring district of Ouhai tried to justify the new measures on a pretext that speaks volumes: “Minors receiving religious education and formation too early in churches would seriously affect the normal implementation of the education system.”

A statement along the same lines from Liang Guochao, head of the Education Bureau, stressed making a "decisive effort to prevent religions infiltrating into schools and to guide students to consciously resist religious cults so as to make the campus a piece of pure land".

The "Official" Catholic Church in China

The official Church is not subject to the same treatment in other regions. In Shanghai and Beijing, children are allowed to continue attending church and catechism.

The Chinese government’s attitude towards the Church has become harsher these past few months, after the failure of the recent meeting at the Vatican in June between authorities of the Holy See and China.

President Xi Jinping’s call in February 2013, to “treat religions with consideration” and “respect the right of citizens to practice a religion” is now no more than a memory. It is true that the president is aiming for a second term at the head of the Communist party that is to meet on October 18: in order to win, he will need to prove his unfailing fidelity to the materialistic and atheist ideal of the Great Helmsman.