But now, the illegal Catholic church in China, (est 10 million members) that has always followed Catholic laws and has had their bishops appointed by the Vatican has been told to obey Emperor Xi's dictates and merge with the state run church.
background HERE (BBC)
It's not certain how such an agreement will affect the community, though some are sceptical.
Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong had on Wednesday criticised the Vatican for its attempts at diplomacy with China, accusing the Church of forcing bishops to retire in favour of replacements picked by Beijing. "Do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China?" he wrote on Facebook. "Yes, definitely."
oh, but the Vatican prefers to listen to "experts":
Others however, are slightly more hopeful. Father Jeroom Heyndrickx, a Belgian priest who has spent 60 years trying to help Chinese Catholics, said that he believed China was "ready to have a dialogue."a Belgian priest? Isn't that the equivalent of cultural imperialism? It's just as if Asians were "little brown (or in this case, yellow) brothers who needed big strong Europeans to tell them what to do.
"For 2,000 years in China, the emperor was emperor and pope at the same time," he told the BBC. "But China has changed and the Church has changed and this is what constitutes a new opportunity for this dialogue to succeed."One wonders where this guy is getting his information.
Yeah. China has changed. They just put a bunch of Chinese Muslims into reeducation camps.
The UN has said around one million Muslims in the Xinjiang region have been rounded up and held in so-called "re-education" centres - camps the Uighurs claim are intended to replace the next generation's Uighur identity with a Chinese one.
The Chinese government has denied the allegations.
and this WaPo article discusses the crackdown on churches in China: LINK.
They have been closing and tearing down churches there too:
“This is part of a comprehensive war against religion,” (Pastor) Jin said in an interview. “The Communist Party has begun to see religion as a competitor. It’s not just [Protestant] Christianity, but also Catholicism, Buddhism and Islam. They want all of us to pledge our loyalty to the party.”
All of the five religions officially tolerated by Chinese leaders — Buddhism, Catholicism, Daoism, Islam and Protestantism — are now experiencing draconian treatment from the government of President Xi Jinping, who has stoked nationalism and promoted loyalty to the Communist Party in ways not seen in decades.
Human Rights Watch report here:
The government restricts religious practice to five officially recognized religions in officially approved religious premises. Authorities retain control over religious bodies’ personnel appointments, publications, finances, and seminary applications. The government classifies many religious groups outside its control as “evil cults,” and subjects members to police harassment, torture, arbitrary detention, and imprisonment.
why is this important?
Because religious organizations allow an independent voice against tyranny.
True, sometimes you end up with a religious dictatorship, like in Iran, but it was religious voices that could oppose the monolithic tyranny of the state.
Which is why Christians often led the peaceful demonstrations against communism that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union. (and not just Communist tyrannies: Martin Luther King's civil rights marches were based on his Christian beliefs, and here in the Philippines, a million Pinoys singing hymns led to the peaceful downfall of the Marcos dictatorship).
Hence, China is afraid.
There is nothing new here:
Emperor Wuzong of Tang, reigned 840–846. The Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution initiated by Tang Emperor Wuzong reached its height in the year 845 AD. Among its purposes were to appropriate war funds and to cleanse China of foreign influences. As such, the persecution was directed not only towards Buddhism but also towards other religions, such as Zoroastrianism, Nestorian Christianity, and Manichaeism.
yeah: bet you didn't know that there were Christians in China back then.