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The Catholic Church vs. China’s Communist Regime: A Struggle for Religious Liberty

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Finding the balance between religious liberty and state authority is an age-old concept, but politicians and religious leaders today are ever wrestling with it. This is especially true for the current presence of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China.

In an article for the Catholic World Report, Acton’s Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, relates the present tension between the Communist regime in China and the Holy See in Rome. This tension is largely due to China’s new “Regulations on Religious Affairs,” which were enacted just this past February.

Gregg describes these regulations as a catalyst for the Chinese government to exert more control over functions of the Catholic Church in China, which they have done in no uncertain terms. Gregg notes that “This has resulted, for instance, in Christians being required to sing songs from the Cultural Revolution or which extol the Chinese Community Party in church. Many churches have been forced to remove crosses and install images of Chinese President Xi Jinping.”

“Perhaps most chilling,” notes Gregg, “have been government attempts to prohibit Christians from taking their children to church or giving them a religious education.”

These regulations also permit the Communist Party to have “a role in selecting future bishops” for the Catholic Church in China.

These actions by the Chinese government are in direct opposition to the Catholic Church’s own Dignitatis Humanae, “its Declaration of the right of religious liberty”, which explicitly declares “the Catholic Church’s insistence on its full liberty when it comes to bishop appointments” in Christus Dominus.

The Catholic Church faces an enormous challenge with its presence in China. Will the Catholic Church allow the Chinese government to have such a large role in its functions? Or will the Holy See choose to suffer impending consequences of opposing this Communist regime? Either way, the world, and especially the Christian Church, will be watching.

Read the full article here.

(Featured image: Jimru Xin [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons)

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Allyson Wierenga

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