Saturday, June 30, 2007

Beijing Faces a Faith Explosion

In God in China; Oasis in a Hotspot Zenit reports on the resurgence of religious faith in Mainland China.

It reports on a new documentary "God in China. The Struggle for Religious Freedom".

"In the case of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Patriotic Association was founded in an attempt to bring Catholic Church teaching in line with Communist party ideals.

"Those who refused to compromise had to remain underground," Schmid said. Throughout the documentary, viewers are made aware of the dangers that still exist. Christians who do not surrender their faith to government directives are in danger of being arrested. Mass is celebrated secretly, and makeshift churches can be torn down by local authorities from one day to the next.

Schmid said that while the underground Church is less vigorously persecuted today, there are still many bishops and priests in prison. In addition to more obvious issues of freedom, the documentary explores more subtle problems, such as making the teachings of the Church accessible to the faithful.

"It's important to understand that joining the Patriotic Association is not a mere formality for Chinese Catholics," Schmid explained.

"The problem is that, under state control, the Church cannot speak up on important issues such as abortion, the one child policy, human rights, and the death penalty -- and for this they must have leaders who do not acquiesce to a mutilated version of the faith, accommodated to the demands of the state." "

One wonders what the Pope will say in his forthcoming letter to Chinese Catholics.