China’s president trying to control religion

China’s President Xi Jinping says he wants to make the country’s many religions more Chinese-oriented by instilling socialist core values.

Speaking at the country’s five-yearly Communist Party conference, Xi said religion poses threats to national security. He told the conference that separatism promoted under the guise of religion would not be tolerated.

Although China officially recognizes Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism, it is strongly against Muslim and Buddhist groups suspected of separatism.

It is also against Falun Gong, a meditation-focused spiritual group that was banned in 1999. Falun Gong supporters suffer state persecution.

Critics say Xi’s comments were directed toward Tibetan Buddhists, many of whom have advocated for independence from China.

The critics also say the speech is part Xi’s push to suppress religion or drive it underground. Churches have been forming in private homes in the mainly atheist country.

This specifically affects the country’s 12 million Catholics.

Despite nominally supporting Catholicism, China refuses to recognise Pope Francis’s role or authority. Nor does the government recognise many of the country’s Vatican-appointed church leaders.

Instead, the government has established the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (PA). The PA 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 recognises both legitimately and illegitimately appointed bishops.

The Vatican and the Chinese government are having talks about recognising and appointing bishops.

The current proposal would allow the government to select possible episcopal candidates and send the names to the Pope for approval or denial.


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News category: World.

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