Chinese Communist official: Pope must not interfere in internal affairs

Chinese Communist official: Pope must not interfere in internal affairs

Catholic World News – 10/23/17

Wang Zuoan, the Chinese government’s director of religious affairs, said that although Pope Francis has been friendly, the Vatican must agree to sever ties with Taiwan and recognize Beijing’s control over internal Chinese affairs—including the affairs of the Catholic Church in China.

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2 comments on “Chinese Communist official: Pope must not interfere in internal affairs

  1. Wang Zuoan: Pope Francis is sincere, but he has to submit to two conditionsLi Yuan

    In an interview with Commercial Radio, the director of the State Administration of Religious Affairs reiterated the urgency of cutting relations with Taiwan and not interfere in China’s domestic affairs, including religion. Fang Xinyao and Ma Yinglin, two bishops present at the party congress, heap praise on Xi Jinping’s speech. Others warn against “fake pastors but real slaves”. An underground Catholic expresses his fears.


    Beijing (AsiaNews) – A senior Beijing official has lauded the friendly attitude of Pope Francis, who made repeated appeals on his wish to visit China, but also setting bottom line on China-Vatican relations in an interview with a Hong Kong media published on Oct 21.

    Wang Zuoan, director of State Administration of Religious Affairs, gave a written reply to the Commercial Radio on the sideline of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, where General Secretary Xi Jinping reaffirms the direction of Sinicization of religions in the opening session on Oct 18.

    Wang told the Commercial Radio that Pope Francis has expressed his tribute to the Chinese leaders and the people through various means while the Chinese government has always been sincere, and has made real efforts, in improving China-Vatican relations.

    However, Wang also reiterated China’s two “consistent and clear principles” in dealing with China-Vatican relations, that is, the Vatican must sever the so-called “diplomatic relations” with Taiwan and not to interfere in China’s internal affairs, including not to interfere in the name of religious affairs.

    Since assuming papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has for several times made public his wish to visit Beijing, including twice in his in-flight press conferences and in an interview with Spanish media El País in January 2017, in which the Pope said he would like to visit China “as soon as they send me an invitation.”

    But church observers saw his tone changed a bit when Pope Francis said in another in-flight press conference in Oct 2016 that “I would like to but I don’t think so yet” when asked if he would make a trip to China as well as during the Angelus on May 22, 2017 when the Pope asked faithful to pray to the Mother Mary “to help us discern God’s will regarding the concrete path of the church in China.”

    The Commercial Radio described Wang’s interview as a rare positive attitude towards the Pope’s visit to China from the China authority. However, Chinese Catholics in and outside China detested Wang’s remarks, especially after the two bishops who participated the Communist congress as special guests published congratulatory remarks to the congress.

    In his work report, Xi said the Party will fully implement its basic policy on religious work, “uphold the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation, and provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt themselves to socialist society.”

    Bishop Fang Xinyao, a Vatican-approved bishop who chairs the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said Xi’s remark provides a fundamental base and points out clearly the way forward for the future development of the China Church.

    Bishop Ma Yinglin, an illicit bishop who heads the bishops’ conference, said Xi’s report on the work of the past five years was very informative and realistic while his grand blueprint for the future is inspiring. Ma called on the Catholic sector to study earnestly the spirit of the congress report while combined with actual work of the Church to realize the goals with all people in China.

    “The Chinese government could speak boastfully as it is now powerful. If the Pope visits China, we underground community will have to be ready for crackdown,” said a lay Catholic in Hebei.

    “But if we make any noise against it, some people would attack us again that we are not listening to the Pope,” said another underground layman.

    In Hong Kong, John Mok, a Catholic commentator on public affairs, wrote on his Facebook, “If the China-Vatican negotiation is to recognize these fake pastors but real slaves, what is the use of it?” But there are other Catholics who agree to continue to dialogue to remove misunderstanding between the two parties.

  2. At the Congress Xi reaffirms: Sinicization of religions under the Communist PartyLi Yuan

    In his speech yesterday at the Party Congress, Xi Jinping reiterated the “new approach” to religious activities. The Catholic Church reiterates the independence of nomination and ordination of bishops. Two bishops present at the Congress: Msgr. Giovanni Fang Xingyao of Linyi and Msgr. Giuseppe Ma Yinglin of Kunming.


    Beijing (AsiaNews) – Insisting the direction of “Siniciziation of religions” was stressed among main goals and visions in General Secretary Xi Jinping’s work report in the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. His epic address or the so-called “Xi Jinping Thought” is expected to become dogma of the Party.

    A 4-point summary on the part of religion was published on October 18 on “Weyan Zhongjiao,” a Wechat official account of the State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA), soon after Xi made his three and a half-hour speech the same day.

    The congress runs from October 18-24 with 2,280 Communist representatives joining. Bishops Fang Xingyao and Ma Yinglin, heads of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Bishops’ Conference for the Catholic Church in China (both organizations not recognized by the Holy See), and five leaders of four other religions were among the 74 special guests invited to the meeting.

    In his speech, Xi said the Party will fully implement its basic policy on religious work, “uphold the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation, and provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt themselves to socialist society.”

    The Party also has to rigorously protect against and take resolute measures to combat all acts of infiltration, subversion, sabotage, as well as violent terrorist activities, ethnic separatist activities and religious extremist activities to safeguard national security, he said.

    Xi also spoke of the flourishing of a socialist consultative democracy, “consolidation of the patriotic united front and new approaches adopted for works related to ethnic and religious affairs” in major steps taken in developing socialist society and the rule of law.

    To uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, he said the Party has to make “theoretical analysis and provide policy guidance” in ethnic and religious affairs among other aspects, such as political affairs, rule of law, culture, education, the well-being of people, united front, foreign affairs and Party building.

    While there was no elaboration on the “new approaches” for religious works in Xi’s speech, Ying Fuk-tsang, director of the Divinity School at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, wrote on his Facebook that Sinicization of religion, a direction established by Xi first in the Central United Front Work Meeting in 2015, would be the core religious theory for socialism with Chinese characteristic in the new era.

    Christians in China interpret the word “sinicization” is to make religion come under the Party. An earlier article on Qiushi, a top-level journal on Communist theory run by the Party’s Central Committee, might also offer a glimpse on the new approaches.

    The article published on Sept 15 was titled the “Theory and Innovative Practice on Religious Work since the 18th National Congress of the CPC” in 2012. It said Xi has “provided a series of new thoughts and views as well as new requirements on religious works and has mapped out a series of important decisions” in the 2016 National Conference on Religious Works.

    It basically summarized main points of Xi’s speech delivered in the conference, including providing “guidance” to the religious sectors, insisting an independent principle of religion, and for the Catholic Church, is to give support to elect and ordain bishops on its own while strengthening the patriotic force.

    In fact, the SARA and the United Front Work Department have mentioned several times about ‘mapping out important strategies’ for different religions in their news releases in the past year,” said a church commentator who requests anonymity.

    “Though those news releases did not give clues to what those plans were, as they would not make it public, the most important issue for the Catholic Church that needs to map out a strategy certainly would be China-Vatican negotiations,” he said.

    The ongoing negotiations, including the latest one in October, is to resolve primarily the issue on the appointments of Chinese bishops. From what we know about these dialogues, China claims the right to appoint and ordain its own bishops, leaving to the Holy See only a very shallow veto power.

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