Chinese clergy are coming under renewed pressure, despite the Vatican’s attempts to find a middle ground, according to reports. The authorities in Fuzhou are forcing priests to join the Patriotic Association (PA) – which many priests believe is contradictory to Church teaching, because it claims independence from Rome.
Why was it under-reported?
Partly because the story has only come out through the reporting of Bitter Winter, a specialist site whose sources take great risks to get information out. Partly because the sheer volume of bad news from China makes it difficult to keep up: just last week, UCA News reported an increase in the authorities banning summer camps and Scripture classes.
But the news is significant because it suggests that Vatican policy – asking the authorities to recognise the conscience rights of priests – may not be working.
What will happen next?
Much will depend on Chinese bishops. In Fuzhou, the authorities ordered priests to sign up to the Patriotic Association, which meant putting one’s name to a statement that the Chinese Church was independent. Bishop Lin Jiashan issued an amended version, which included clauses which reaffirmed Catholic teaching; but when priests signed the amended version, the authorities said they had to sign the original.
One priest says that if you sign up to the PA, “in the end, you will believe in Catholicism in name only”.
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