China’s five year plan to develop Catholic Church

The Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics and the Council of Chinese Bishops has approved the “Five-Year Plan of Development for the Sinicisation of the Catholic Church in China.”

The plan aims to develop the Catholic Church altering religious principles and practices to match Chinese communist ideals and eliminate “foreign influence” ensuring governmental control of all religious activities.

Neither organisation is recognised by the Holy See. However, both acknowledge the Communist Government in Beijing as the primary authority in China.

Religious leaders will need to have Communist Party approval.

Although details have not been released, the plan will involve “understanding the history of the church” in China, theological research, and evangelism. Architecture, arts and liturgy will change to fit better with Chinese ideals.

Religious conformance to Chinese principles has been an expectation in China for many years.

This expectation has strengthened recently. As an example, in 2015, President Xi Jinping spoke to the United Front, calling for outside influences on religion to be eradicated.

The United Front is answerable to the Communist Party Central Committee; it has powers to impose state control on religions.

China and the Vatican are currently at odds with each other at present and will meet again next week to discuss their expectations.

Three weeks ago the South China Morning Post quoted the Pope as saying he will not “compromise Catholic principles” by giving China the power to appoint their own bishops.

However, China does not want to allow the Pope to appoint religious leaders, seeing it as a means to keep the influence of Western ideals in China.


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