TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Even as relations between the Vatican and the Chinese Communist Party appear to grow closer, Beijing is reportedly increasing persecution and suppression of Christian groups within China.
Despite alarms being raised by Chinese Catholics, there is serious concern about the future intentions of the Vatican and Pope Francis.
This week, two Chinese media groups have released reports describing the increased antagonism and abuse recently displayed by the Chinese government towards Catholics and other Christian groups in China.
The Catholic run news outlet Kong Kao Po (公教報) reports that Beijing and the Vatican have begun communicating again, with a meeting said to have occurred at the start of September. The report claims that an agreement concerning the appointment of Chinese Bishops by the CCP may even be reached before Oct. 1.
The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) on Sept. 5 published a report on Beijing suppression of Catholics in Henan Province. The report says that minors under 13 have been prohibited from entering Church buildings and that senior members of certain churches have been threatened by authorities.
In recent days, a church of the Anyang Diocese in Henan has had its cross demolished and the outside wall of the church which displayed scripture has also been destroyed by local authorities. Reportedly, even the publisher who provides printed church materials has been censored and may no longer publish any materials related to Christianity or local church groups.
According to these reports, government agents in China have ramped up a crusade arcoss the country, especially in Henan and Zhejiang provinces. One priest who has regularly spoken out against the treatment Shao Zhumin (邵祝敏) has reportedly gone missing.
Reports from across China suggest the campaign targeting Christians has spread to Jiangxi, Liaoning, Jiangsu and other provinces. In Jiangxi, 40 churches have reportedly been forced to hang pro-communist banners, and people under the age of 18 have been prohibited from entering.
UDN reports that many senior church members say the current situation is reminiscent of their youth, when they experienced the turmoil and social upheaval of the Cultural Revolution, a time when Christians had to be very cautious when they gathered to worship.
Given the current scandals embroiling the leadership of the Holy See, and even calls from within the Vatican for Pope Francis to step down, it seems unthinkable at this time that the Vatican would consider selling out Catholics in China to the Communist Party, and yet this is precisely what many in China fear the Papacy is considering.