China has imposed new draconian regulations requiring clergy to follow the essential values of communism and promote the ‘sinicization of religion’—using intimidation of criminal repercussions—in a further blow to Pope Francis’ secret Sino-Vatican concordat.
The Communist Party of China’s (CCP) State Bureau of Religious Affairs (SBRA) on May 1 released the Measures for the Administration of Religious Clergy, which established a Orwellian system of monitoring and tightened the noose on the existing stringent control on all clergies.
According to the Chinese principle of religious independence, the new laws require clergies to show love for the country, support the CCP leadership and the socialist system, and exercise the essential values of socialism.
Although the new measures do not mention Pope Francis, the Chinese Communist Party rips to shreds its secret concordat with Vatican.
Article 12 is another slap in the face of the Vatican because it requires clergies to not be “subject to the domination of foreign forces, unauthorized acceptance of appointments by foreign religious groups or institutions, and other acts that violate the principle of religious independence and self-management.”
The new measures are designed to build a national database of CCP-authorized clergies, with heavy consequences for underground Church clerics who are not registered but act as pastors to devoted Catholics.
Article 16 stipulates that “Catholic bishops shall be approved and ordained by the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China” (BCCCC) with the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), and BCCCC shall file a record of the ordination within 20 days to the SBRA.
The goals of the CPCA, according to former Taiwanese bishop Andrew Tsien, are to substitute it for the actual Roman Catholic Church and, in the long run, to abolish religion in order to build a purely materialistic and authoritarian society.
Catholic bishops were also required to have a copy of the bishop’s household book and a copy of the residence card and the declaration of the democratic election of bishops by the provincial Catholic organization, autonomous regions, or municipalities directly under the central government.
The Vatican and China signed a two-year deal in September 2018 purportedly to unify the Catholic Church.
At that time, Pope Francis faced many criticisms and warnings for submitting to the CCP regime and refusing to condemn the persecution of Christians and Muslim Uighurs in China.
Catholic human rights activist Benedict Rogers bemoaned Pope Francis was renewing a deal with the CCP that has produced no dividends for President Xi Jinping and only divisiveness and hardship for the Catholic Church.
According to Bitter Winter, a Chinese human rights journal, once registered, the cleric enters an Orwellian realm where loyalty to the CCP and affection for the party was appraised periodically, with clergy earning rewards and penalties in a system analogous to social credit.
Even after the Sino-Vatican agreement was signed, there were still arrests that came after the diocese decided to use an abandoned factory building as a seminary.
Chinese authorities have not recognized Xinxiang Diocese ever since the Vatican erected it in 1936.
On May 21, police arrested Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu, 63, of the Xinxiang Diocese in Henan province, a day after detaining priests and seminarians for allegedly breaking the country’s draconian new religious rules.
Bishop Weizhu was ordained in secret in 1991 because the state-aligned Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association refused to recognize his appointment by the Vatican.
The persecution in Xinxiang comes as Pope Francis has asked Catholics worldwide to pray for Chinese Christians as they commemorate the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, and the Patroness of their beautiful country on May 24.