The president of the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) has said that “Love for the homeland must be greater than the love for the Church,” according to Asia News.
Speaking at a state-sponsored meeting in Beijing, Bishop John Fang Xingyao also said that “the law of the country is above canon law”.
Why was it under-reported?
There is too much bad news from China for news sources to report it all – and the significance of these remarks may not have been clear, compared to the more vivid news of persecution.
Since 2013, an estimated 1,500 churches, Catholic and Protestant, have had crosses taken down. The state has rigorously enforced new laws requiring religious organisations to register. Since the Vatican-Beijing deal, priests have been forced to join the CCPA. Many say its ideology contradicts Church teaching – a criticism which Bishop Fang’s remarks seem to corroborate.
What will happen next?
The divisions within the Chinese Church have not been healed by the Vatican-Beijing deal. While it recognised all bishops, whether CCPA-linked or Vatican-appointed (or both), it has left many Catholics feeling that they have divided loyalties.
The CCPA is seen as committed to the “sinicisation” of religion, in which Catholic doctrine must be subordinated to the needs of the state. Catholic churches may be closely monitored to ensure that they are teaching government-approved doctrine.
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