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Article: Christians under Attack in China

January 25, 2007

Frederick W. Stakelbeck Jr. writing in FrontPageMag:

In March 2006, Human Rights Watch noted that over one year after the passage of China’s Regulations on Religious Affairs – regulations that state Chinese citizens have a constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of religious belief – little progress had been made. The regulations, the first comprehensive action designed to ensure religious freedoms in China, were supposed to usher in an age of greater tolerance and understanding. Instead, the regulations have been an overwhelming failure. Chinese officials continue to detain and arrest Christian worshipers, harass clergy and restrict access to religious sites in the name of “safeguarding the unification of the country and the stability of society.”

More recently, Beijing has used the global “war on terror” to justify the false imprisonment of Christian activists on national security grounds. China’s petitioning system, or court system, receives countless abuse complaints from citizens. However, instead of receiving justice, activists who report abusive activities are often charged with “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities.” As a result, many religious activities by Christians have moved underground and out of sight of the communist regime and the official Chinese Catholic Church.

In China’s Hebei province, the Catholic population has come under attack. In December, a Rome-based, Catholic news agency reported that nine priests of China’s underground Roman Catholic Church were arrested during Christmas prayer celebrations for meeting in a location not sanctioned by Beijing. Earlier, the brutal beating and hospitalization of several nuns by a group of local police officials and street thugs provided another example of how religious freedoms continue to suffer under the oppressive fist of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

In addition to the recent arrests and beatings, six Catholic bishops have either disappeared or been detained over the past several months. Bishop Jia Zhiguo was detained by state officials for not keeping activities such as the celebration of the Mass and distribution of sacraments more “discreet.” Christian religious training schools have been raided in Jiangxi province in an effort to discourage membership and the publication of religious literature such as Bibles and their possession have been strictly prohibited.

(…)

To address the increased persecution of Chinese Christians, Pope Benedict XVI said this week that the Holy See would continue its efforts to improve diplomatic relations with China. “The Vatican will continue the path of respectful and constructive dialogue with the governmental authorities so as to overcome past misunderstandings,” a Vatican statement said. In a meeting at the Vatican residence with several Chinese Roman Catholic bishops, the Pope said he would send a personal letter to Catholics in the country very soon expressing his support for the free expression of religious beliefs.

The Pope’s recent attempts to normalize relations notwithstanding, Vatican-China bilateral relations remain noticeably strained, with the continual harassment of the county’s Roman Catholic population through the practice of forced “re-education,” the confiscation of church land and property and the ordination of priests and bishops by Chinese state authorities without Vatican approval.

Full article here.

Recommended website:
The Cardinal Kung Foundation

See also:
Catholic News Service: Vatican says Chinese church growing; pope to write Chinese Catholics
Doug Bandow/NRO: The Bishop from Beijing

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