"My position as a national legislator will not and cannot affect my religious service, as China implements the principle of separation of church and State," Guo told the state-sponsored newspaper Global Times.
The Global Times reported that Guo went on to say that Catholics must adapt to socialist society in order to survive and develop in China, and a fundamental requirement for this is to be patriotic.
This echoes President Xi Jinping's repeated comments that all religion in China must "Sinicize" or adapt to Chinese culture and society as defined by the state. In 2016, Xi told Chinese Communist Party leaders that they must "resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means."
For decades, China's 12 million Catholics have been split between an underground Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See, sometimes subject to government persecution, and the government-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, whose bishops are appointed by the Communist government and have sometimes been ordained without papal approval.
Bishop Guo serves as secretary-general for the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC). Bishop Yang, the other Chinese synod delegate, serves as its vice-president.
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This Chinese "episcopal conference" was deemed illegitimate in Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 letter to Catholics in China because it is "governed by statutes that contain elements incompatible with Catholic doctrine." It is unclear whether the Sept. 22 agreement between the Holy See and China recognized the Chinese government's bishops' conference as legitimate.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the objective of the September accord is "not political but pastoral" and will allow "the faithful to have bishops who are in communion with Rome but at the same time recognized by Chinese authorities."
Yang was ordained a bishop with both papal approval and government recognition in July 2010. The Yan'an bishop studied theology in Rome, obtaining a doctorate in 1999.