Beijing, China, Oct 25, 2017 / 16:27 pm
President Xi Jinping of China announced this week that he wants to tighten Beijing’s strict government controls on religion in the communist country.
In a speech this week during the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi said that religions not sufficiently conformed to Communist ideals pose a threat to the country’s government, and therefore must become more “Chinese-oriented.”
While these comments were reportedly intended particularly for Tibetan Buddhists, who have lobbied for independence from China, it could also mean a cooling of the already-rocky relations between the Vatican and China.
Diplomatic ties between the Church and China were all but cut in 1951, when the communist party took control over Beijing. Members of the Communist Party in China are technically not allowed to hold any religious views.
Recently, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have worked to re-establish diplomatic relations with the country, though it has been a slow and arduous process.
While the Chinese government technically recognizes Catholicism as one of five religions in the country, it does not recognize many Church leaders appointed by the Vatican, driving many among the Catholic Church leadership and laity underground.
The Chinese government established the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (PA), which is a sort of alternative ecclesiastical hierarchy officially recognized by the Chinese authorities.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has called the PA “incompatible with Catholic doctrine,” since it recognizes both legitimately and illegitimately appointed bishops.